This is an opportunity for all of us to learn about the mistreatment of Older Americans together with ways to prevent it.
Unfortunately, research tells us elder abuse continues to be on the rise across the nation.
Whether it is due to the increasing population of seniors in America today or from new ways to report it is happening, this is a potential epidemic we all need to be aware of.
How can you help your aging loved ones stay safe? How can you ensure they are safe inside and outside the home? Regrettably, over 60% of all cases start with a family member. Our goal is to help educate you on this critical elder care issue. In honor of this annual event, let us share nine ways the seniors you know can protect themselves.
1. Devise a plan in advance. Talk with family and friends, and anyone else you trust, about what to do if you ever feel you’re at risk of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
2. Keep in touch with your support system on a regular basis. Isolation is unhealthy, and it can also make you vulnerable to abuse.
3. Stay active within your personal network. This includes getting involved in senior-friendly activities and social groups. Forge friendships with those who would understand if you needed to share your concerns or experiences.
4. Continue to get more education. Learn about the different types of elder abuse, which can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature, but also may include financial exploitation and forms of neglect.
5. Try to avoid scams. Try to make it your practice not give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number over the phone or on the internet. Also, register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce contact with telemarketers and aggressive sales people.
6. Ask for help. Again, when possible consult someone you trust before taking any actions involving your signature or large amounts of money. Do not allow yourself to be pressured or intimidated into making decisions.
7. Check in on your Florida estate planning documents. Your documents can ensure that a trusted individual can have legal authority to make decisions should you need help. For example, consider a durable power of attorney. This is a legal document that allows a trusted confidant to make decisions on your behalf, including when you are incapable of handling your own affairs.
8. Do your research. Anyone who is going to help you needs to be fully checked out. Make sure your caregivers have been properly screened, and criminal background checks have been completed.
9. Report abuse immediately. There are plenty of people who can help. Tell trusted family members and friends as soon as possible, and know that doctors, health care professionals, clergy, and others, have a mandatory duty to contact the authorities. Further, in Florida you can report to ensure that you can be kept safe under all circumstances!
We know this can be a difficult topic to discuss and even harder to manage. Do not wait to ask us your elder care issues. We are your local community law firm here to help you and your loved ones in the state of Florida.
How are you planning to spend the Memorial Day holiday this year?
Memorial Day is on May 27th and as the holiday fast approaches, you may be wondering how to best recognize the veterans you love. In reality, there is no one best way to show your appreciation, but caring for your veteran loved one, as well as preparing for their long-term care is a great way to pay your respects.
To help you accomplish this, let us share with you a few tips about caring for the veterans you love this Memorial Day.
First, we encourage you to spend some quality time with your loved one. Whether you attend a Memorial Day festival, take your loved one out for a meal, or simply sit with your loved one and watch television, your loved one will undoubtedly appreciate the time you spend with them. Memorial Day may also be a good time to evaluate your loved one’s changing needs based on the last time you saw him or her, and discuss where your loved one sees him or herself residing in the near future.
Once you have determined the type of care your loved one needs, the next step may be to interview caregivers or visit assisted living facilities. It is important to include your loved one in this process to ensure that he or she is comfortable with the caregiver or facility. Consider taking your loved one on a visit to an assisted living facility or asking him or her to be vocal about which potential caregiver he or she feels most comfortable with.
When the time is right for you and your loved one, we encourage you to connect with an experienced Elder Law attorney to prepare a plan for rising long-term care costs. An Elder Law attorney can also help determine whether your loved one is eligible for any VA benefits, such as Aid and Attendance, and can apply for those benefits on your loved one’s behalf. We know this can be a challenging conversation to have, but planning ahead can help ensure your loved one’s needs will be taken care of and will remain protected in the future.
These are just a few ways you can care for the veterans you love this Memorial Day. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and we encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to discuss them, as well as a plan for your loved one’s future.
Every May is both National Elder Law Month and National Older Americans Month. As a firm, we are committed to working with our Florida seniors and their families to ensure that they have a way to find good long-term care, should the need arise, and be able to afford it without losing a lifetime of savings. No month encompasses our goals more than the month of May.
This is a time of year to reflect on and honor the many ways senior adults impact the lives of others. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges facing older adults. For example, did you know that 15 million senior adults are formally recognized volunteers, and it is estimated that about half of all aging adults volunteer in some form in their communities? Almost one in five seniors has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and the overall senior contributions to the economy, education system and families are incalculable.
Both National Elder Law Month and National Older Americans Month are occasions to spotlight the amazing people who make up this often overlooked group.
While recognition is indeed due, so is increased attention to critical senior concerns. Let us share with you in our blog just a few of these concerns together with possible solutions you and your aging loved ones may use.
1. There is a near-epidemic of diabetes among Older Americans.
According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of Americans age 65 and older have pre-diabetes, meaning nearly 25 million seniors are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. That figure is shocking considering about 25 percent of the nation’s older population already has diabetes. Encourage your loved one’s to be tested and seek a doctor’s guidance.
2. Obesity is a serious related issue in Older Americans.
Obesity rates among older adults has steadily climbed over the past decade, and now stands at an eye-popping 40 percent of 65-to-74-year-olds. The ill effects of these sorts of challenges can often spill over onto others who care about them. Talk to your aging loved ones about your concerns and support their choices for a healthier lifestyle.
3. Long-Term Care for Older Americans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging estimates that 70 percent of all people 65 and older will need long-term care services in their lifetime, especially as the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other long term ailments continues to grow. In many situations, long-term care is unpaid, as more than 80 percent of caregiving is performed by family members, friends, and neighbors. An estimated one in four households provides some level of care for an aging loved one. Discuss alternative options for long-term care with your loved ones as soon as possible.
While these are concerns to be aware of, remember that American seniors are a large, diverse, and incredibly valuable group. They continue to make a difference all over the country each and every day in the lives of their loved ones and their communities. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to discuss them.
As we look to care for our parents and grandparents as they age in Florida, we need to think about their current and potential long-term care needs. How will they be able to find good care should they need it? Where should they look for help? What is available in our community? How will they be able to afford the care they need should the time come?
Unfortunately, many Florida seniors do not begin to plan for the high cost of long-term care until it is too late. For a myriad of reasons, they did not plan forward to think about what they may need both now and for a future that includes an increased need for long-term care assistance. Most of us today simply cannot afford the additional thousands of dollars per month it would cost to have support from home healthcare or a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility without rethinking our finances and looking for help from public benefits.
While many Florida seniors turn to Medicaid and other local community programs for assistance, for Florida veterans, there are additional benefits available. They range from health care and funeral assistance to disability support and pension assistance. For many veterans the available benefits remain unused and hard to obtain due to the qualification that is required to gain access to them.
Perhaps the most beneficial program for the Florida senior veteran in need of long-term care assistance is the VA Pension program.
The VA Pension program is in no way tied to a service-connected disability.
In fact, the health care disability standard associated at the basic level is met simply by being over age 65. This a monthly, tax-free benefit that can increase based on the health care needs of the veteran.
The rules changed substantially for this program on October 18, 2018. This program is not an automatic benefit for wartime veterans and their dependents. They must prove, first, that the veteran served for at least 90 days of active service with one day during a period of war. Second, he or she must prove that he or she was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Now, to access this program, the new rules created a few more qualifications. For example, there is an asset limit for the veteran’s countable resources. Prior to the rule changes, there was no set amount in place. This year the veteran may have $126,240, excluding exempt assets, and this amount will change each year.
Further, through these rules the Department of Veterans Affairs created a “look-back” period. A “look-back” period is a period of time during which the Department may review assets to determine if the veteran has made gifts of his or her resources. A similar set up currently exists for the Florida Medicaid program. The “look-back” period will be for thirty-six months. If the VA determines this occurred the veteran may face a disqualification period.
These are just a few ways the VA Pension program has changed.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to get the answers you need for yourself and your loved ones.
Every year millions of adults over age sixty experience some type of abuse. According to the National Council on Aging, elder abuse “includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.”
Adults with dementia, however, experience a much higher rate of elder abuse.
It defies belief that some people would harm the elderly, much less older adults with cognitive disabilities. Unfortunately, though, it does happen with more and more frequency.
These seniors are especially vulnerable because dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s Disease, can involve impaired memory, communication skills, and judgment.
Further, afflicted seniors are also less likely to report abuse and many might not even realize when abuse is happening to their person.
How can we work to prevent this from occurring to our Florida senior loved ones?
One of the best ways to protect a Florida senior from elder abuse is to proactively obtain a Florida durable power of attorney.
A power of attorney grants a designated person, like an adult child of an aging parent, the legal right to make decisions on his or her behalf. In general, it is one of the most important legal documents adult children of aging seniors can acquire to help a parent. Adding a durability provision ensures that the agreement can remain legally valid should the elder adult become incapacitated at any time.
Powers can be clearly defined, if needed. With respect to finances and health care, however, a durable power of attorney can allow for the hiring and firing of caregivers and health care providers, as well as, the ability to access bank accounts, investments and property, in order to hire professionals and pay bills. Using a watchful eye for signs of abuse, a durable power of attorney can provide the needed authority to act in an elder loved one’s best interests.
Your elder care attorney can also help construct a document that speaks to each family’s specific situation.
He or she can also provide valuable guidance about your Florida senior loved one’s rights should there be concerns about their elder care in the future. Of course, should you ever need to report elder abuse in Florida, do not wait. You can use this link to report abuse in the state of Florida.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Do not wait to ask us your questions about this or any related elder care issue. We are your local community elder law firm here to help you get the support you need for yourself and the Florida seniors you care about.