Do your loved ones live in a different town or state from you? Are you concerned about them? How could you help them if they needed it or if a crisis occurred? May is National Elder Law Month and these questions are often repeated during this month-long celebration. That is why elder lawyers go out into their communities during the month to focus on and educate our aging population and their families about the help, care and legal documents that seniors need. This month calls for not only seniors, but communities across the nation and adult family members to get involved.
So how can you help the elders in your life? More importantly, what do you do if your elder loved ones live out of town? We know you may have these questions and more. We would like to share three strategies to help you on our blog this month.
1. You should consider increasing communication. Call often, you could even set up a certain time of the day and call daily or every other day, whatever works best. If possible, visit whenever you can. In addition, enlist the help of other family members and friends, especially if any of them live in the same town or close to your aging parents. Did you know that regular communication helps prevent isolation and can identify unmet needs and problems? Ask leading questions, like, “What are you doing today?” or “What did Dr. Smith have to say?”
2. You should consider using a caregiver notebook. Create and keep up-to-date an online digital notebook of doctors, health providers, insurance agents, friends, neighbors and other important contacts for your aging out-of-town parents. You could also share it with other family members. Also, think about keeping an up-to-date online calendar.
3. You should consider finding daily assistance. As we have mentioned before, long distance relationships are difficult at any age. For out-of-town seniors, it is important to build up a good, reliable and caring network of assistance. Look into coordinating with different organizations and individuals to schedule frequent assistance, such as meal deliveries, social visits, and check-ups from home health aides.
Do you have questions? Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Are you an adult child caring for your aging parent? Did you know that loss of memory may be a part of the aging process? As you care for your aging parent, how do you know when memory issues are serious enough to warrant intervention? What happens when your parent will not tell his or her physician that he or she is experiencing memory issues. Let us discuss some warning signs your aging parent may need memory care soon.
1. Appearance changes. With declining mental status there may be changes in appearance. For example, your parent may forget to bathe or stop putting an effort into his or her appearance, or even continuously wear the same outfit. This may be happening because he or she is forgetting to tend to hygiene or has confusion regarding the steps involved in hygiene. You know your parent best and are in a good position to see if there is a significant change in appearance.
2, Weight loss. Severe dementia may cause your parent to lose weight but there may be several other causes. Forgetting to eat may be the simplest cause, but if your parent does his or her own shopping he or she may be from getting lost on the way to the market, misplacing credit cards or having them turned off because your parent forgot to make the payment. Often, a combination of these factors may make the process of shopping for and eating food feel too overwhelming, and your parent may simply try to survive on what he or she has. If you do notice a sudden unexplained weight loss, you will need to engage your parent in a conversation about meals and grocery shopping. From a safety perspective, you should also determine whether your parent is at any risk of cooking related injuries, including burns or leaving the stove on, which may warrant immediate intervention.
3. Medication not taken. Are you noticing extra medicine around, or is your parent experiencing medical symptoms from not taking the proper medications, such as suddenly increased blood pressure or elevated blood sugar? These are sure signs that your parent is forgetting to take his or her medications.
4. Starting to get lost. If your parent is wandering or getting lost on routine routes this is a primary sign of dementia. When you try to talk to your parent, however, he or she may be unwilling to discuss it out of fear or shame, or his or her memory loss may cause him or her to be too confused to fully comprehend the situation. Try to visit your parent at a different time of day to see if they are wandering or getting lost or ask his or her neighbors to call you, if they see anything out of the ordinary.
5. Often agitated. Memory loss can be emotionally stressful. If your parent seems to be a little off, or gets easily angered, or begins lashing out, your parent may be experiencing memory loss. Often, memory decline will cause your parent to accuse family members and friends of stealing, as an explanation for misplacing things. If your parent accuses you of stealing, rather than take it personally, it may be time to call his or her doctor.
6. Depression. The aging process, medications, or a number of other reasons may cause depression. If you start to notice signs such as withdrawing from going outside, interacting with others, and increased isolation it may be time to not only talk to your parent but seek medical help.
If you observe any of these symptoms in your parent, first make sure he or she is in a safe environment and check on him or her more frequently. After this, speaking with his or her physician will provide you guidance in getting him or her appropriate memory care. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Growing old can be a difficult process, as most individuals go through some stages of natural decline before they pass away. Unfortunately, despite these years being referred to as the golden years, each stage can also come with some complicated legal issues. Oftentimes, a person will turn to an attorney they have used for other matters throughout his or her lifetime or simply ask a friend or family member for an attorney referral, but did you know the legal issues relating to aging are quite complicated? Let us review three reasons why you need an experienced elder law attorney.
First, an elder law attorney can help you with issues you may face before death. Although it may be difficult to think about and plan for your decline and eventual passing, it is something we all should face, and ultimately preparing for it can be a gift to your remaining friends and family members. Estate planning, or preparing a will or trust, can help assure your estate passes to the people of your choosing. A qualified elder law attorney can also draft your estate planning documents with the goal of asset preservation by drafting the documents to provide the lowest level of tax liability.
After reviewing your overall financial picture, an elder law attorney can also consider your Medicaid eligibility and conduct planning around it. Often people may be under the false belief that Medicare will cover a nursing home, should one become necessary. Medicare, however, only covers one-hundred days in a nursing home and then, the nursing home bill must be paid for by Medicaid, long-term care insurance or private pay. As private pay for a nursing home can quickly eat through someone’s assets, an elder law attorney can advise you on your ability to obtain long-term care insurance or how to create a trust, which will both protect your assets and may allow you to be eligible for Medicaid to cover the cost of a nursing home.
Additionally, some older people suddenly lose their mental capacity by virtue of a stroke or other medical condition. An elder law attorney can assist you in developing a contingency plan to handle your financial and medical decisions should this happen to you. This will likely involve durable powers of attorney or be included as a part of your trust.
Second, an elder law attorney can also help address issues after death. Following your passing, a qualified elder law attorney can assist with both the administration of your estate or probate, if necessary.
Third, you may also find benefits of a holistic approach in an elder law attorney. Growing older and the associated challenges with aging can be a very emotional time for elders and their family members. Experienced elder law attorneys may be adept with the law, but they also understand the social and emotional issues and may serve as a trusted guide for you and your family members.
It is never too soon to consult with an elder law attorney to put a plan in place for your golden years. Having a plan for managing the legal issues associated with aging will allow the golden in your golden years to continue to shine. Our office is here to help. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting time.
It may be the worst nightmare for your parents or other senior loved one. After a lifetime of hard work and savings, the need for a nursing home may cause them to lose it all. While planning for long-term care may be best done before the care is indicated, that is not always possible. Sometimes an abrupt medical event or an unforeseen accident may result in a senior being placed in a nursing home, or perhaps, the senior was unaware of the necessity of long-term care planning. So, how can you help Florida seniors protect themselves, when entering a nursing home?
If the senior owns a home and Medicaid assists with the cost of a nursing home, following the senior’s passing, Medicaid may place a lien against the home, also known as “estate recovery,” for the cost paid out for the nursing home. If the senior owns a home and Medicaid is contributing to the cost of the nursing home, it may be important for the senior and/or family members to consult an elder law attorney as soon as possible after placement in the nursing home. There are some situations, which may prevent estate recovery, such as a spouse residing in the home, or a disabled child. In some instances, the senior may be able to transfer the home without creating a situation of Medicaid ineligibility.
Unfortunately, seniors who enter nursing homes can also become victims of financial elder abuse via less than honest employees, who obtain their personal information. Seniors should be instructed not to log into personal accounts from shared computers to avoid having personal information stolen. Some nursing homes offer banking services. Residents who bank with the nursing home, however, may unknowingly have funds withdrawn from their account. Another risk is that when pension and social security checks are mailed directly to a facility, they may be stolen. The nursing home is supposed to deposit such checks in a trust account and use them to pay the resident’s bills, but there have been instances where the funds were misappropriated. Not only is the resident out the money, but if his or her nursing home bill is not paid, the resident may be forced to leave the facility, as well. Thus, when a Florida senior enters a nursing home, it may be best to have a trusted friend or relative appointed as the durable power of attorney and to keep the senior’s private funds separate. The power of attorney can oversee the senior’s finances and help ensure that no suspect transactions are occurring.
In general, if you know a senior, who has entered a nursing home, it can be a good idea to meet the staff of the nursing home and visit frequently. Our office can assist with creating the proper documents to protect the senior’s assets and to safeguard them from the potential of financial abuse. Please reach out to our office today to schedule a meeting.
Did you know romance scams, sometimes called “lonely heart” scams, often occur when scammers and bad actors attempt to financially exploit vulnerable people? This can be done in many ways, including online, by earning the trust of the vulnerable person through romantic manipulation and outright emotional deceit. Unfortunately, seniors tend to be targets of many kinds of scams, and they are especially vulnerable to lonely heart frauds due to higher incidence of loneliness and social isolation.
Valentine’s Day provides a heightened opportunity for online criminals to take advantage of vulnerable Florida seniors. Let us take a minute to be proactive and share a few tips on how older adults can protect themselves.
First, remember, as the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. Romance scammers typically present fake images of themselves and pretend to be someone they are not in reality. They often profess a strong attraction or deep seated love shortly after meeting the victim online, and then attempt to exploit the situation. These criminals are watching for vulnerable Florida seniors. Do not fall for it!
Once scammers feel they have moved past a person’s emotional defenses, they often move quickly to convince their victims to communicate in private forums, like email, messenger apps, or even by phone. This makes it easier to isolate their victims from others.
Criminals might allude to romantic vacations or a passionate future together if they could only afford it. This is aimed to tug at the heartstrings of vulnerable Florida seniors. They might say they have never felt this way about someone before. Be aware that this is not how real life relationships work and always use common sense.
Be careful of subtle manipulations. Little by little, giving into unusual requests can lead you down a path of providing personal and financial information that you would never offer at the beginning of a conversation.
When you start to suspect something may be wrong, look for telltale signs that something is amiss. If someone says they know you from your hometown, for example, and they are wrong about things they should know, then it could be a scam. Perhaps the scammer looked at your Facebook friends and developed a fraudulent online identity to get past your defenses. Another red-flag is if a seemingly familiar person refuses to meet in real life.
Hard luck stories from a previously unknown love interest are also common internet scams techniques. Before moving on to asking for money, the person may hint at financial troubles, such as a broken-down car or a sick relative. This is something all seniors, not simply vulnerable Florida seniors, need to be on the lookout for. The “grandparent” scam, or when a person pretends to be a grandchild who is in trouble, is something all seniors should always be on guard against.
For all of us, if you are unsure about someone online, cut off all communication. You do not have to do anything they say or take action. Finally, if you or someone you know has been the victim of an online financial crime, do not wait to contact the authorities for help. Further, you can contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights and appropriate courses of action. Remember, elder law attorneys have special training to help you navigate this and any potential elder care issues you may face. Do not wait to contact our law practice to learn more today.