Did you know taking the time to visit elder loved ones in a nursing home isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s also a way to support their health? Studies show that social isolation and loneliness have profoundly negative effects on the elderly that can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Nursing home visits can go a long way toward combating isolation, but there are also other benefits.
Nursing home residents typically love to receive visitors. Wouldn’t you? It gives them something to look forward to and keeps them engaged with the outside world. It’s also emotionally stimulating. Visits spark positive memories and lets elder residents know that people they care about still care about them.
Remember, family members are not the only individuals who may visit. Friendly visits, from neighbors and local friends, not only offer opportunities for socialization but also offer opportunities to spot trouble. Nursing homes are supposed to be reassuring residential communities where aging loved ones spend their final years in peace and comfort. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The National Council on Aging estimates that about 1 in 10 seniors has experienced some form of elder abuse in a community setting, and as little as 1 in 14 cases are ever reported to the authorities. Always be vigilant when visiting an elder loved one or friend and make sure to look for signs of neglect as well as physical abuse.
Another important reason to visit is that it is always a chance to gauge the elder person’s health. Busy staff members might not recognize subtle changes in physical behavior or mental acuity, and identifying early warning signs can help avoid emergencies, like a fall or stroke. It’s also helpful to discuss prescription medications and any related side effects that might cause discomfort or harm. Curious family members and friends may be the only opportunity where a senior feels comfortable to express his or her concerns.
Finally, nursing home visits create new, enjoyable memories. Just because an aging adult lives in a long-term care facility doesn’t mean everything worthwhile in life is in the past. They can still bond with people who care about them, no matter where they are now living. There is also never a wrong time to answer questions and get the support you need in your local community. We work with Florida seniors and their loved ones each and every day, and encourage you to schedule a meeting to discuss this topic or any elder care questions you may have.
We often find that adult children and their aging parents will come to our office and present to us, their newly recommended estate planning attorney, a last will and testament that is at least twenty years old. This estate planning document nominates a brother or a sister as a guardian for the minor children. It also provides for the assets to be distributed on death to a bank trust company that is to retain the assets in trust until the children have attained age 21.
One of the problems with this estate plan, which needs updating, is that the youngest of the children is now age 25 and the eldest is age 35. In addition, the bank nominated in the last will and testament to serve as the trustee is no longer in business. Further, if there was a trust agreement, it was never funded.
In this scenario, we are fortunate that the parents lived these many years and it was not necessary to use the estate plan, or even fund the trust. In situations like this, one of the ways we can help the parents is by drafting a new estate plan that corrects these issues. For example, the new trust agreement could dispense with the need for a guardian of minor children and name a trust company now in existence to serve as the trustee.
The parents, however, have aged to the point that a new estate plan alone is not sufficient for them. The parents need their own updated advanced directives in the event of a disability. Therefore, the parents will also need to consider signing, at a minimum, durable powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, and living wills.
Further, they need to consider long-term care planning.
An estate plan alone will not be sufficient to help them be able to afford the high cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility with memory care or a skilled nursing home. Medicare is also not able to help with the cost of the daily custodial care. The parents need an estate plan but also an elder care plan that can help them plan for how they will be able to afford long-term care and not lose their lifetime of savings.
We work with parents and adult children each day to tackle this difficult issue.
The key is to not put off this type of planning as time is of the essence. If you have questions on this or any issue, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting.
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.
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.
One of the most challenging aspects of getting older is the loss of independence that accompanies aging. Advancing age alone, however, is not necessarily a sign that the Florida senior you love should give up his or her car keys. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 40 million licensed drivers are over the age of 65.
Unfortunately, as drivers get older, they can be more at risk of being seriously injured or killed if they are involved in an accident. There is more to driver safety than buckling your seatbelt. If the Florida senior you love is eager to drive, let us share a few tips to help you keep him or her safe on the road.
1.Research senior-friendly cars.
Did you know that not every car may be appropriate for a senior driver? Certain cars have features that can help keep your senior loved one safer while driving. A car with safety features such as power seats, power windows and mirrors, an easier to grip steering wheel, a push start button, and keyless entry can help senior drivers feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
2. Encourage your loved one to make regular doctor’s appointments.
As we age, our bodies change. The senior you love may regularly visit the doctor’s office for check-ups and treatment plans for any medical conditions. If your senior loved one is driving, however, you may want to encourage him or her to meet with a primary care physician to discuss whether any prescription medications they currently take can impact driving skills. Regular checkups with an optician and ear specialist can also help your senior loved one monitor any hearing or vision loss that can increase their risk while driving.
3. Encourage your loved one to take a driver-safety course.
Most of us remember taking a driver safety course when applying for our driver’s license. It never hurts to refresh those skills! Did you know that your Florida senior loved one can enroll in an older driver education program? These programs are designed to increase awareness of age-related risks and will educate your senior loved one about how to help avoid these risks while driving.
4. Make sure your loved one knows his or her limits.
The senior you love may not feel comfortable driving in every situation. We encourage you to discuss your loved one’s driving limitations before he or she gets behind the wheel. Determining what driving conditions your senior loved one finds more challenging, for example, driving in the dark or when it is raining, can help protect both your senior loved one and other drivers on the road.
These are just a few of the ways you can help protect the senior you love on the road. Above all, remember, it is important to frequently check-in with your senior loved one to keep track of any changes in their health or functionality. Do not hesitate to ask us your questions or to seek advice about creating a legal plan to protect the senior you love.
Every day, millions of Americans take prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines to treat a variety of ailments ranging from incontinence, to depression, to allergies and more. New research, however, shows that previously unknown risks associated with certain associated drugs may be contributing to elevated rates of dementia in aging adults.
Today, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are at near epidemic levels. They currently affect over 50 million people worldwide, and about 10 million more people are diagnosed every year.
Millions of Americans and their families have also been painfully impacted by the devastating effects of dementia. These can include, but not be limited to, severe memory loss and deteriorating judgement, decision making, and behavioral functions. Alzheimer’s Disease alone is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and there is no known cure.
Several groundbreaking studies in recent years have shed light on the issue by establishing a compelling link to a class of drugs known as “anticholinergics.” These include highly technical drug names like amitriptyline, dosulepin, and paroxetine, for example, and others like oxybutynin, solifenacin, and tolterodine.
In plain English, these are are used to treat depression and the loss of bladder control.
Other conditions regularly treated with anticholinergic drugs include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s disease. Some studies include diphenhydramine, an anticholinergic ingredient in many commonly used antihistamines. Common medicines containing diphenhydramine include Benadryl, Motrin, Midol and Robitussin — although it’s important to note that these medicines have not been shown to cause dementia, only that diphenhydramine has anticholinergic effects. Anticholinergics work by blocking a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, called acetylcholine that carries brain signals for controlling muscles.
A new British study found that long-term use of certain anticholinergics is significantly linked to dementia, especially those used to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. But unlike other studies, it did not find a connection between antihistamines and dementia.
Shockingly, in some cases, a link was established for study participants who took anticholinergic drugs 15-20 years before being diagnosed with dementia. Scientists concluded that such cases reduced the possibility of mere correlation between these drugs and dementia.
While there’s much research to be done, every new study advises both physicians and patients to be vigilant about the use of anticholinergic drugs. We know just how hard it can be when a loved one faces a diagnosis like this. Do not wait to contact our office on this issue or any elder care issue you or a family member may be facing.