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.
This March, we are celebrating National Nutrition Month. We all know how important a balanced diet and frequent exercise are to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that certain foods and exercise have even more benefits for aging adults? As we age, our bodies change, as do our needs. In fact, as we get older, our metabolisms slow down and we are more at risk of developing chronic diseases. We know that getting into a routine can be challenging at first, which is why we want to share with you a few tips to help you get started on your health and wellness journey.
First, consider your daily diet. The National Council on Aging suggests that aging adults consume a balanced amount of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Planning your meals a few days or a week in advance can help you stick to that diet. If you neglect to plan in advance, it is easier to fall into the habit of missing meals or reverting back to unhealthy food options. Reducing salt and sugar intake have also been linked to lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, decreasing your risk for cardiac-related diseases. Further, certain foods, such as blueberries and sunflower seeds have been shown to boost brain health and decrease memory loss.
Next, we encourage you to implement a regular exercise regimen. If it has been a while since you have been active, it is important to start slowly and work up to a preset goal. We know that being physically active can present some unique challenges if your mobility levels are low. There are, however, various activities that can be effective and accommodated to fit your needs, such as raising your arms or legs up and down on a frequent basis. When creating the exercise regimen that works for you, consider activities that will help improve your endurance, balance, muscle strength, and flexibility.
Finally, it is important to check in with your doctor before changing your diet or becoming more physically active, especially if you have a pre-existing or chronic health condition. Your health care provider may be able to recommend various activities and diet plans that are best for your individual situation and can work around any limitations you may have. These are just a few tips to help you make better food choices and establish an exercise regimen to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle as you age. Do you need more ideas? Are you ready to create a plan for your long-term care? Do not hesitate to contact our office to set up an appointment.
At any given time, the majority of elder caregiving is performed by family members. Often, though, the elder’s health declines to the point that paid outside care services can be required for him or her. Whether due to an illness, like Alzheimer’s Disease, a debilitating injury or simply old age, the demands of elder health care can exceed even the most dedicated family caregiver’s capacity to give.
Shifting to paid care can be emotionally difficult, even when it is obvious that it is in an elder loved one’s best interest. A healthy transition can induce feelings of failure and guilt, especially if a senior loved one values his or her independence and resists.
Statements like, “I don’t need any help,” or, “I don’t want a stranger in my house,” can be crushing when you are trying to help. Just like a parent looks after the best interests of a young child, an adult child may need to look after the best interests of his or her elder parent.
Let us share a few suggestions for you to consider when launching into a paid caregiver dynamic:
Reassure an elder loved one that hiring help does not mean that you are going to abandon him or her.
Be present for initial meetings between the caregiver and an aging loved one to help establish rapport.
Show outside caregivers how to do things in ways that are familiar and pleasing to the senior adult to help them feel comfortable.
Tell an elder loved one that working with a care provider is something they can do to take part in his or her own care.
Include an elder loved one in the caregiver process by asking him or her to try it out for a week, and then listen to feedback.
When selecting caregivers, try to find a personality or cultural match to create a sense of common ground, although cultural differences also make for interesting combinations.
Once the relationship is established always check-in to keep an eye on things.
Above all, an elder loved one’s quality of life, and therefore, quality of care, is the most important objective in any caregiver relationship, whether family or paid. Feelings of guilt can be overcome in taking steps to achieve this important objective. We work with families each day to solve challenges just like the one described here. Let us know how we can help you and your loved ones today.
As we age, our bodies experience a number of changes, particularly in the way it functions. Tasks that were once easy to accomplish, such as getting dressed, bathing, eating, and generally getting around, may be more difficult to perform. These can be difficult changes for your senior loved one to accept, and they may feel hesitant to lean on you for assistance. We know how important the safety of your loved one is, which is why we want to share with you a few tips to help your senior loved one successfully and comfortable navigate daily activities and tasks.
First, it is important to evaluate your senior loved one’s specific needs. Not every senior experiences the same difficulties, and your loved one may feel embarrassed to share their challenges with you. We encourage you to monitor your loved one moving around and performing daily tasks, like eating and getting themselves ready. It is important to remember that the tasks your loved one finds challenging may change as he or she continues to age. If you feel more comfortable hiring a professional to evaluate your loved one’s needs, there are home assistance personnel who can monitor your loved one for you.
If your senior loved one does not have a daily routine in place, it may be time to help them create one. This can add stability to your loved one’s life and avoid causing him or her unnecessary stress. Having a routine can help your loved one feel more comfortable navigating daily tasks, as he or she will follow the same steps each day.
Unfortunately, sometimes your senior loved one may need more help than you can provide. As difficult as it can be to think about moving your loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility, sometimes it is in his or her best interest to do so. If your loved one is still mostly functional and healthy, a home caregiver may be able to provide the care he or she needs. If your loved one has worsening health conditions and frequently falls, these may be signs that he or she would benefit from living in a care facility.
Encouraging your senior loved one to lean on you for support can significantly improve his or her quality of life. If you have questions or if you are ready to discuss a plan for your loved one’s long-term care, do not wait to contact our office to meet with experienced Elder Law attorney, Scott Selis.