Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), offers advice for seniors on how to avoid financial abuse.
The Veteran’s Administration offers a great benefit called Aid and Attendance Pension that has been a critical source of financial assistance for veterans and their widowed spouses who are in need of nursing home care.
The application process to receive this benefit can be daunting, with complicated rules related to qualification. And now applicants have newly proposed changes in regulations to contend with; changes that could make it even more difficult to qualify for benefits, and could even severely punish those who transfer their savings or property incorrectly.
Take the hypothetical case of Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers is a WWII vet who proudly served our country during wartime. Two years ago, Mr. Rogers welcomed his first granddaughter. He wanted to make sure this little girl would have a strong future, so he gave away twenty thousand dollars to help pay for her college someday.
Mr. Rogers recently had a stroke and he is now in need of nursing home care, so he decided to apply for Aid and Attendance Pension to help pay for the costs. But because he made a gift of twenty thousand dollars to his granddaughter two years ago, Aid and Attendance benefits are denied to him for the duration of a penalty period.
Why was he denied? According to the newly proposed changes, if savings or property were transferred incorrectly at any time within three years before he applied for the Aid and Attendance benefit, he would be subject to a penalty period. Depending on the amount of funds transferred he could be denied for up to 10 years.
If you or a loved one are considering applying for Aid and Attendance Pension, we encourage you to wait until you’ve spoken to a Veteran’s Administration accredited elder law attorney. Your elder law attorney can help you navigate the complex legal issues involved in qualifying for assistance.
Please visit our Veterans Pension page for more information about the VA benefit, or browse our Links & Resources.
Watch Henry's story from the Music and Memory iPod Project; Alive Inside Documentary.
1. Eliminate tripping hazards
One of the greatest dangers that an elderly person faces is falling. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. That's why first and foremost, it's important to rid your home of any tripping hazards.
Do you have electrical chords crossing your floors? Cover them in tape, or better yet, reroute them or get rid of them. Wrinkles and upturned corners in rugs also present a tripping hazard. Consider removing excess rugs in your home.
2. Attend to bath and shower safety
Climbing in and out of tubs and showers can be tricky business for those with mobility issues. Consider installing bathroom safety features such as grab handles, shower bars or a bathing chair as these simple features can make a world of difference.
Bathroom floors can get slippery. Non-slip mats are great for tubs and showers, while a good bath mat can soak up excess moisture and make the floor outside of the shower a safer step.
3. Install night lights
Install night lights in hallways and bathrooms for safer nightly strolls around the house.
4. Tag leftovers
Label leftovers in the fridge and tag them with clearly visible "expiration" dates. Make sure to use large print for older eyes. Food poisoning is especially dangerous for the elderly, and those with memory difficulties may require help to know when their food has gone bad.
5. Update fire safety features
Make sure the home is armed with the adequate number of fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Are their batteries fresh? Discuss a fire escape route with the senior to ensure they know the best way to exit the house in case of emergency.
Many household fires start in the kitchen. Place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure the senior has been given clear instructions for its use. Even better, tape an illustrated instruction sheet beside it.
6. Consider a Medical Alert Device
In the unfortunate event that an accident does occur, there are many devices available that will instantly summon help in case of emergency. They come in many different forms, such as a necklace, a bracelet or a belt buckle. Consider investing in one of these emergency transmitters that can be worn by the senior at all times.
If the senior is uncomfortable or unwilling to wear such a device, consider giving them a special necklace or belt attachment that enables them to carry their cell phone on their person.
What a great idea! In exchange for rent-free apartments, students in the Netherlands agree to spend at least 30 hours per month helping out the elderly residents. Nursing home residents who would otherwise suffer from feelings of isolation and loneliness instead find themselves participating in activities with good neighbors. The students, in turn, benefit from the wisdom that years bring.
Both the young and the aging can't help but be enriched by their interactions with one another. Wouldn't it be great if we could incorporate this brilliant plan into our nursing homes?
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no documents, no discussion
Doctors may not discuss your loved one’s health condition without the proper documents in place.
Your loved one’s physician at the nursing home may not be able to discuss their health with concerned family members due to rules of patient confidentiality.
If you want to ensure that you will be part of the conversation about your loved one’s health condition, treatment, medication and even life-or-death decisions, certain documents may need to be in place.
With a Medical Power of Attorney, your loved one can appoint someone they trust such as a child, friend or other family member to make health care decisions for them when they are unable to.
An Advance Medical Directive or Living Will allows your loved one to specify their wishes when it comes to their care and to appoint someone they trust to act on their behalf.
Either of these documents would include HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization to ensure you’re not violating the HIPAA act in discussing your loved one’s health with their doctor.
To learn more about these and other helpful documents, please visit our Wills and Power of Attorney page.
Hear Maria Shriver, Rob Lowe, Maggie Gyllenhaal and others have "The Talk" about long term care planning.
Advance care planning can make a critical difference in the life of your family. Advance planning is especially important in emergency situations or when faced with end-of-life care. Planning ahead involves discussing and deciding on treatment instructions and appointing a health care proxy decision maker in the event that an aging parent becomes disabled and cannot make their own medical decisions.
Communication is the most essential part of advance care planning. It’s important that it be an ongoing process that includes everyone who will be affected by these decisions. Planning should adapt to changing circumstances, and should reflect your aging parent’s wishes, values and beliefs.
The idea that a loved one may someday become incapacitated or be faced with end-of-life decisions is a difficult and emotional subject, but talking about your parents’ wishes ahead of time can provide peace of mind at a later and more difficult moment, and can avoid conflict within the family.
What should you discuss with your aging parents? Their values and spiritual beliefs are very important to consider when developing an advance care plan. You should know their concerns and preferences about what medical decisions should be made if they became incapacitated.
It’s also important to decide who should be appointed as their health care proxy decision maker. This person needs to be someone who they trust to make decisions on their behalf that reflect their wishes and beliefs about care, even if that means denying life-sustaining treatment. This very sensitive topic is important to approach in advance, as an advance decision could save a family from agony later on.
Some of the documents you will need to put your plan into effect may include a Living Will or Advance Medical Directive, and a Power of Attorney. To learn more about these documents please visit our Wills and Power of Attorney page.
We can help put your plan into place. Please contact us to discuss your options and begin your advance care planning.
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