Seniors are a special target for criminals seeking to scam them out of their hard earned life’s savings. The scammers are clever and relentless and prey on the normal human instinct to protect themselves and their families from financial loss, or the desire to cash in on some offer that seems too good to be true. So if you get a phone call, or an email either threatening that unless you pay some debt, or can win thousands of dollars if you just give some information, STOP. Do not give out your private information, such as social security number, date of birth, financial information, or family names and addresses.
Families with ageing loved ones are naturally dismayed over a decline in their physical and mental capabilities. There is often no way to stop that natural progression in life, but there are ways and means to help cope with handling everyday life. The first is for the spouse or younger family members to observe the functions that are declining; such as memory, balance, judgement, movement and safety awareness. In early stages of decline, just checking on mom or dad over the phone or in person may be enough to evaluate if there is any risk of harm. I can still remember a phone call from a friend of my mother’s calling me to say “I saw her go through a stop sign.” That is a dreaded call for any child, as it leads to a decision at some point on no longer driving. For many that can be an extremely difficult decision, because that car is the means and symbol of independence. Fortunately for our family, she willingly relinquished driving as she lived in an apartment building with numerous friends her own age who were willing to take her to her usual stores and church.
If your family is faced with a nursing home admission, here is a warning before you sign the admission agreement with all that fine print that is bewildering. Do not sign that agreement until you have an experienced elder law attorney review it, because many such admission agreements have provisions in them that try to make the family member signing it personally responsible for the monthly payment. This is not allowed under the Federal law, and you should not sign as a “responsible party.” It is perfectly fine to sign as a power of attorney, or a conservator, and that is how the admission agreement is often signed.
If your family is facing the need for long term care at home, or in a nursing home, one of the first things that comes to mind is do you need the help of an elder law attorney. The big concern is what kind of care is needed. The second is can care be at home, in an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. The third is “how are we going to pay for that care?” The variety of programs for homecare, assisting living and nursing home care, and the qualifications to receive federal, state, or veterans benefits to pay for that, often results in a jig saw puzzle that leads to confusion and frustration. A bonafide elder law attorney will devote most or all his or her practice to elder law issues, and will have staff that understands the problems faced by families, and the solutions. So how can you select a competent elder law attorney?
If you have a serious medical condition such as coronary artery disease or arrhythmia that could suddenly put your life at risk, you probably have a list in your wallet of the prescriptions you take in case of a medical emergency that would render you unconscious and unable to talk with health care providers. That is common sense. But let’s take that a step further and apply it to any adult, no matter their health.
Sometimes small tidbits can save families big money and help keep family caregivers from burning out. Giving parents or a spouse help to stay at home is a common occurrence. But when that help becomes so time consuming that it affects the child’s job or health, it is past time to seek outside help. It does neither the parent or the child any good if the child suffers what is called ‘caregiver burnout.’ Day care is available for some. It gives extra socialization to a parent who is amenable to it, and allows children to keep their paying job. A child who is able to give full time care can be paid for it by the parent, if a written contract is used, so that if Medicaid is ever needed, the money paid to the child will not be counted as a gift..