Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Troubling Calls: Elder Abuse

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Every time I am asked to speak on the subject of aging, I always bring up the issue of elder abuse. The most troubling calls I receive are the ones that begin, “Dad has Alzheimer’s and my sister has moved in with him, and is spending all of his money.” The majority of elder abuse cases come from family members. In these challenging economic times, when people are losing jobs and houses, financial elder abuse will very likely be increasing. Our public agencies such as APS (adult protective services) are overwhelmed, understaffed, and will see their budgets cut in this era of drastic revenue shortfalls. I frequently hear from families that someone has contacted APS, but they wouldn’t do anything about the problem. I tell them that APS can only do certain things, and since they are only one agency, getting all of the calls for these problems, they can’t fix every situation. We all need to be vigilant in order to protect our families, our friends, and our neighbors. Ironically, it seems sometimes that a senior will trust a stranger before they will trust someone in their own family.  With dementia often comes a certain level of paranoia, but that usually takes the form of accusing the family members (or caregivers) of stealing something, when it has just been misplaced. 

The best protection against elder abuse is vigilance. Be sure you know what is going on
in your parents’ home, and don’t assume that everyone is a “good guy.” For a reference on warning signs, risk factors, prevention and reporting Abuse, click here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Challenges of Parental Advocacy and Care

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
In her article, How to Be a Loving Advocate for Your Parents, Suzanne Gerber,  editor of the Living & Learning channel for Next Avenue aptly describes the challenges and progression of her mom’s advanced age related problems. Though each situation is unique, most of the baby boomer generation can relate in some way to the concerns: health & fitness, memory loss, finances and being taken advantage of.  The pressures of assisting our aging parents or other loved ones are usually coupled with helping our own grown children through economic challenges. Often, we are trying to juggle this along with own careers. With so many responsibilities, the balance of being respectful of our loved one’s independence and knowing when to step in can be difficult.  That said, there are basic foundations one can do now to ease some pressures. For example, this author writes how she began making a list of her mom’s medications, keeping a copy for her and one for mom.  Soon the list branched out to finances and home health safety.  I have always recommended to my clients who are concerned about their loved ones to begin building a database centered on this type of key information.  Who are the people your parents interact with?  Do you have the neighbors’ name and phone number?  What about medical history?  If something were to happen, do you have the name and phone number of their primary care provider?  What medications are they taking?  Do you know what senior resources are available in their community?

We offer a free download titled “toolkit for the sandwich generation.” This checklist prompts you to begin collecting information and is comprehensive.  However you do it, start out slow.  Don’t try to accomplish everything in one fell swoop!  Each time you visit or have contact begin asking the questions and writing it down.  Eventually you will have a necessary resource of valuable and helpful information should the need arise.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Aging Parents Checklist

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The Mayo Clinic offers 7 warning signs of health problems with aging parents. In addition, they have compiled some suggested actions you can take.  I would add that you also determine if your loved one has created documents that allow for medical decisions to be made before they are no longer able to make those decisions for themselves.  Do they have a financial power of attorney?  This identifies someone who can act on their behalf to sign documents.  These two legal documents are critical and cannot be created after someone loses capacity.  There are solutions for that too, but they are costly and timely.  Having these documents on hand long before they are needed is insurance for not having to make complex decisions under anxious conditions. Lastly, if there are powers of attorney documents, know where they are located!     

The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean offers a comprehensive portfolio of Elder Law services, including the legal issues that may arise with a person’s advanced age.

An Elder Law Attorney can:
  •  Create documents that allow for medical decisions to be made for a person who is no longer able to make those decisions for themselves.
  •  Protect the rights of those who suffer from mental incapacity.
  • Evaluate a family’s financial resources when one spouse (or parent) must move out of the home into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. 
  • Facilitate the transfer of estate assets in cases where a Will, Trust, or other legal documentation is not available.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our Parents, Ourselves: Family Crisis

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The Elder Law attorney who is practicing today often works with families in crisis. Mom or Dad has just received the dreaded “D” diagnosis (dementia). The family is struggling to cope with a home situation that is deteriorating rapidly. No one can afford to quit their job and become Mom’s full time caregiver, but the cost of bringing in care is beyond the family budget. Often the first place the family goes after visiting the physician is to the attorney. The family has been told to “get things in order” so that they can assist Mom with her business affairs and her health care decisions.

In my legal toolbox, I can offer people a few things. I can help with legal documents, such as powers of attorney, if the parent who needs them is still competent. If they are no longer competent, I can explain what a conservatorship  is, and how you go about creating one. Believe it or not, many of the children who call me have no idea as to whether their parent has created a will, trust, or powers of attorney. If the parent has dementia, they may no longer remember this fact, and they certainly don’t remember who the attorney was who helped them years ago. But beyond my legal toolbox, I can offer the family resources. My office can refer to geriatric care managers, companies that assist with placement, companies that provide in-home care, people who can help move Mom into the facility, or to her daughter’s home. One very helpful resource is Dementia Whisperers, a company that can help the family understand and communicate with the family member who has dementia. This will relieve much of the stress involved in coping with this difficult condition.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Your chance to win powers of attorney!

In honor of National Elder Law Month, Lynn Dean is offering you or someone you know a chance to win one free Financial Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directive. This appoints someone to act on your behalf to sign documents and the latter is to ensure your medical decisions are followed if you become incapacitated.  These two are critical and cannot be created after someone loses capacity. All you have to do is "LIKE US" on Facebook.  Random drawing June 2, 2014.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May is Elder Law Month

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA) established May as Elder Law Month as a way to educate seniors and their families about their legal options in dealing with elder abuse and fraud, long-term and health care planning, Medicaid, Medicare, estate planning, and other important issues

Lynn Dean, proud member of NAELA since 1997, is committed to ongoing outreach to the community with seminars, lectures, presentations and support.  This month we will be posting on the challenges observed as an elder law attorney and useful resources for those who have a concern with an elderly parent or relative.

The challenges of Elder Law are rewarding but increasing as the population ages and the cost of care goes up. Our professions will be serving this population as the baby boomers age and face the same issues. The best advice that we can give our clients and their children is to have those important legal documents in place and communicate their wishes. It will never be easy to transition from independence to a need for assistance. But with compassion, we can protect those we care about, and make sure that they have quality of care in the years that they are with us.

If your organization, association or club is interested in having Lynn A. Dean present a topic of interest related to Elder Law, Contact us 916-786-7515 to determine when she is available.  To learn more about estate planning and elder law or view past presentation topics visit our website speaking engagement topics.