Category: Alzheimer’s Disease

Important to consider Long-Term Care Insurance

Important to consider Long-Term Care Insurance

It becomes especially important to plan for the future when the world around us seems so volatile and unpredictable. We can’t control future health care costs, but we can plan for them, says a recent article titled “Economic instability and the need to plan for long-term care” from The Indiana Lawyer. Failing to plan could mean lost assets and a lost legacy. It is important to consider long-term care insurance as you get older.

According to Genworth’s Cost of Care survey, from 2004 to 2021, the cost of long-term care has outpaced inflation by a large margin. Many of the increases were driven by supply and demand issues. There aren’t enough people to care for the growing population of people needing services, which will continue to be the case for at least the next decade. A total of 10,000 boomers turn 65 every day and 70% will require care and support services in their lifetimes.

How can assets be protected from long-term costs?

One of the most frequently used tools is an asset protection trust or an irrevocable trust. The irrevocable trust cannot be modified, amended, or terminated without permission of the grantor’s beneficiary or beneficiaries. Once the grantor transfers assets into the trust, the grantor no longer has the rights of ownership. The trust can be designed to minimize taxation, maximize access to long-term benefits and protect assets.

The trust must be drafted properly, so trust income and principal, if needed, can be accessed.

The timing is critical. Asset protection trusts must be created when there is no immediate health care crisis, and the grantor has no need for long-term care. The best trust is created when the person is in good health and of sound mind.

Those who are nearing retirement, passed retirement age or who may have health issues in the distant future and expect to need Medicaid in the future are best candidates for an asset protection trust.

Medicaid’s Five Year Look Back Period

Planning needs to be done at least five years in advance, as Medicaid looks at the applicant’s past five year’s finances to see if any assets were sold or gifted for under market value. Transferring assets to an irrevocable trust is treated as a gift and violates the five-year look back, making the person ineligible for Medicaid coverage. Nursing home care will have to be paid out-of-pocket until the person becomes eligible.

Asset protection strategies are available for those who need immediate protection of assets. However, they have to done quickly and correctly with an estate planning elder law attorney. People who have suffered a fall and have significant injuries or who have received a diagnosis of a difficult disease should speak with an elder law attorney in a timely manner. They’ll need to discuss preparing for a Medicaid application, what assets can be protected and steps they need to take. It is important to consider long-term care insurance before you reach a point when it is needed. The earlier the plan is put into place, the better. If you would like to learn more about long-term care insurance, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: The Indiana Lawyer (Aug. 3, 2022) “Economic instability and the need to plan for long-term care”

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Spotting early Dementia Symptoms is Critical

Spotting early Dementia Symptoms is Critical

It’s easy to miss the first signs of cognitive decline. Spotting early dementia symptoms is more critical than ever: the Alzheimer’s Association projects that 12.7 million people 65 and older will have some form of dementia by 2050. That’s why a lot of research on behavioral changes associated with dementia could help in the early detection of the neurodegenerative condition. However, this subtle action is often ignored by people with dementia and their families.

Yahoo’s recent article entitled “This Is the No. 1 Dementia Symptom People Ignore, Doctors Say” explains that many people believe that memory loss is the only sign of dementia. However, there’s much more to this debilitating condition than forgetfulness. There are a number of other behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with dementia, the most common of which are apathy, depression, irritability, agitation and anxiety. The rarest symptoms are euphoria, hallucinations and lack of inhibition. Many of these are subtle at first. Therefore, understanding what to look for is critical in early detection. It can significantly affect the course of your disease and delay its progression. This behavior change can be seen many years before a dementia diagnosis.

A 2020 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found, when looking at the medical records and consumer credit reports of more than 80,000 people aged 65 and older who were Medicare beneficiaries, people who developed dementia were significantly more likely to have financial problems and poor credit scores. These financial problems became more prevalent following a dementia diagnosis.

Monica Moreno, Senior Director of Care and Support at the Alzheimer’s Association, tells Best Life, “While there are several signs or symptoms of dementia, challenges with problem-solving or planning can cause a person to mismanage their finances. Other dementia-related symptoms that can adversely affect money management or personal finances include poor judgment and difficulty completing familiar tasks.”

The study concluded that missed bill payments lead to higher penalties and interest fees that are detrimental to your financial well-being. Therefore, financial guidance is essential for dementia patients after diagnosis.

“During the early stages of dementia, a person may be able to do simple tasks like paying bills but struggle with more complicated tasks, like managing investments or making a decision on large purchases,” explains Moreno. “Since dementia is often progressive, these challenges will increase over time. Therefore, family members need to identify these potential signs early and intervene as soon as possible.”

It’s important to spot financial behavior changes for early detection of dementia. Common signs include:

  • The inability to balance checking accounts
  • Consistently making late payments on credit cards; and
  • Overspending.

Moreno adds, “People with dementia are susceptible to fraud, including identity theft, insurance scams and get-rich-quick schemes. Allowing these problems or potential threats to go unaddressed can put individuals living with dementia [and their families] at great financial risk.”

Spotting early dementia symptoms is critical to protecting older adults and their families from the burden of unnecessary financial stress.

The JAMA Internal Medicine study advises, “Families should be counseled about the potential need to help with financial management following [dementia] diagnosis.” If you are interested in learning more about dementia and other cognitive disorders, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Yahoo! (Aug. 8, 2022) “This Is the No. 1 Dementia Symptom People Ignore, Doctors Say”

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Geriatric Care Managers can make Life Easier

Geriatric Care Managers can make Life Easier

Geriatric care managers (or GCMs) help seniors deal with their burdens in an efficient, organized manner. Geriatric care managers can simply make life easier for both you and your senior, says Seniors Matter’s recent article entitled “What is a geriatric care manager?”

Seniors Matter created a guide to provide seniors with detailed information about geriatric care managers, including what they do and how to locate the most qualified individuals in your area. If you’re not sure about the role of a geriatric care manager, it can be broken down into two parts: First of all, “geriatric care” simply refers to geriatric medicine, which focuses on health care services for elderly individuals. The second part of the phrase is quite straightforward, since a “manager” is simply someone with strong organizational skills who is in charge of making important decisions.

Geriatric care managers are knowledgeable and organized individuals skilled in advocacy and care coordination for seniors. They are specialists in senior care who can guide family caregivers and others in providing the best support for their seniors. In fact, many family caregivers think of senior care managers as unofficial family members.

They’re people you can trust to make the right choices when it comes to eldercare services, and they often develop bonds with the entire family.

Geriatric care managers have strong qualifications. Many of them have professional experience in case management, physical therapy, nursing, social work, or occupational therapy. Some have worked as gerontologists. Note that a GCM doesn’t need to directly provide seniors with all of the medical treatment they need. A significant part of their role involves finding other qualified medical professionals and senior care providers who can offer more specialized assistance.

GCMs are especially helpful in long-distance care situations. They can ensure quick response times in the case of an emergency.

Even if the time commitment of informal caregiving isn’t an issue for you, a geriatric care manager can be a welcome source of advice, guidance, and advocacy.

You can make life easier and feel confident about important decisions when you consult with qualified geriatric care managers.  They can help you with the complex issues associated with proper care coordination. If you would like to learn more about elder care and elder law, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Seniors Matter (July 7, 2022) “What is a geriatric care manager?”

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Identifying the Early Signs of Dementia

Identifying the Early Signs of Dementia

If you’re an older adult experiencing memory lapses, lack of focus or confusion — or you have a loved one with those symptoms, you may be concerned about the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, other treatable conditions can cause similar symptoms, and they can be easy for doctors to miss, says Ardeshir Hashmi, M.D., a geriatrician and section chief of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Geriatric Medicine. There are clues that can help you in identifying the early signs of dementia.

“Sometimes there’s just a very superficial workup and then [the doctor says], ‘Here’s a pill for Alzheimer’s,’” Hashmi says. (While no drug has been proved to stop or slow the progression of dementia, there are several federally approved medications that can help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.) “Before you make that conclusion, you should rule out all the other things that can be confused with dementia — things that are easily reversible.”

AARP’s recent article entitled “6 Medical Problems That Can Mimic Dementia — but Aren’t” identifies some common medical problems that can be mistaken for the early signs of dementia.

  1. Medication interactions or side effects. Older adults are more likely than younger people to develop cognitive impairment as a side effect of a medication. Drug toxicity is the reason in as many as 12% of patients who present with suspected dementia, research shows.
  2. A respiratory infection (including COVID-19). Any untreated infection can cause delirium — a sudden change in alertness, attention, memory and orientation that can mimic dementia. When you have an infection, the white blood cells in your body are sent to the infection site, causing a chemical change in the brain that makes some older adults feel drowsy, unfocused or confused. Respiratory infections are harder to diagnose in people over 65 because they are more likely to lack classic symptoms, such as a fever or a cough.
  3. A urinary tract infection (UTI). Research shows about 1 in 10 women older than 65 and up to 30% of women over 85 reported having had a urinary tract infection in the past year. Men are also more likely to experience UTIs as they age. However, most UTIs, and the accompanying cognitive issues, can be diagnosed with a simple urine test and then treated with an antibiotic.
  4. Sleep problems or disturbed sleep. If your sleep-wake cycle is disturbed or you have insomnia, you may experience dementia-like symptoms. These include trouble focusing, confusion, mental fatigue and irritability. Some older adults also suffer from sleep apnea, a sleep-related breathing problem that can deprive your brain of the oxygen it needs while you slumber, possibly causing long-term damage. Many seniors don’t realize they have this. Tell your doctor if you have signs of apnea, such as loud snoring, waking up gasping or choking, uncontrolled high blood pressure, a morning headache, or a dry mouth upon waking. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, using a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) while you snooze has been shown to be an effective treatment.
  5. Dehydration. If you take diuretics or laxatives, they can contribute to water loss. If you seem foggy or confused, see if your urine is dark yellow or brown, which can indicate a lack of fluids. Another sign of severe dehydration is a white coating on the tongue. To prevent dehydration, older adults should aim to get at least 48 ounces of caffeine-free fluids (six 8-ounce glasses) a day.
  6. Normal pressure hydrocephalus. This is a treatable disorder in which cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain, disrupting and damaging nearby brain tissue and causing cognitive problems. A neurologist can diagnose normal pressure hydrocephalus using brain imaging and cerebrospinal fluid tests. It is treated by inserting a shunt into the brain to drain the fluid.

Know that dementia isn’t a normal expected part of aging. 11% of adults 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Identifying the early signs of dementia can dramatically increase the benefits of therapies and treatments. If you would like to learn more about dementia, and other related illnesses, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: AARP (March 21, 2022) “6 Medical Problems That Can Mimic Dementia — but Aren’t”

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Latest Ways to Prevent Dementia

Latest Ways to Prevent Dementia

Protecting brain health and cognitive functioning as we age is crucial. The CDC estimates that 5.8 million people in the U.S. are now living with dementia. With that figure only getting larger, many recent studies have been focused on understanding what causes the condition, as well as the latest ways to help prevent dementia. One recent study looked at the relationship between cognitive decline and something you may already have at home.

Best Life’s recent article entitled “Having One of These at Home Helps Prevent Dementia, New Study Says” reports that research shows different foods and drinks can either increase or mitigate your risk of dementia.

A recent study, for example, found that vitamin K has the potential to improve cognitive abilities in aging brains. A number of forms of this vitamin are found in leafy green vegetables, fermented foods, some cheeses, meats and fish. Research suggests that getting optimal daily doses may help protect your brain in the future.

Another new study found that having a pet at home could have positive effects on your cognitive health. The findings from a recent study suggest they could actually help slow rates of cognitive decline. Preliminary data were presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) meeting earlier this month, outlining how “sustained relationships with companion animals” could help keep your brain healthy.

“Prior studies have suggested that the human-animal bond may have health benefits, like decreasing blood pressure and stress,” said study author Tiffany Braley, MD, MS, associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical Center, said in a press release. “Our results suggest pet ownership may also be protective against cognitive decline.”

Richard Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic in the Center for Brain Health at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine, echoed this when speaking with CNN about the findings. According to Isaacson, who was not affiliated with the study, owning a pet or multiple pets integrates “core components of a brain-healthy lifestyle.”

“Cognitive engagement, socialization, physical activity and having a sense of purpose can separately, or even more so in combination, address key modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease dementia,” he told CNN.

The study looked at the cognitive data from 1,369 adults over the age of 50 from a University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. The participants had an average age of 65 years and normal cognitive skills when the study started. Over 50% of the participants owned pets, and of those, 32% were long-time pet owners (owing pets for over five years).

Researchers found that pet owners’ cognitive composite scores decreased at a slower rate, when compared with non-pet owners. The results were stronger for long-term pet owners, whose average scores were 1.2 points higher than non-pet owners at the six-year mark. Demographics seemed to have an impact. Pet owners generally had higher socioeconomic status, when compared with non-pet owners. Researchers also found that college-educated adults, Black adults and men who were long-term pet owners had even more prominent cognitive benefits.

While researchers couldn’t definitively say why long-term pet ownership had the best effect, according to Braley, having a pet may help mitigate stress and keep you moving—both of which aid in keeping your brain healthy.

“As stress can negatively affect cognitive function, the potential stress-buffering effects of pet ownership could provide a plausible reason for our findings,” Braley stated in the AAN press release. “A companion animal can also increase physical activity, which could benefit cognitive health.”

He noted that additional research is needed to confirm the most recent findings. These are just a few of the latest ways to help prevent dementia. If you are interested in learning more about dementia, and other cognitive conditions, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Best Life (April 26, 2022) “Having One of These at Home Helps Prevent Dementia, New Study Says”

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Documents you can use to Plan for Incapacity

Documents you can use to Plan for Incapacity

There are a number of factors, such as illness or disability, that can cause someone to become incapacitated. You need to have a plan should the unthinkable happen. There are documents you can use to plan for incapacity. The chief reason for a Power of Attorney (POA) is to appoint an agent who can make decisions about business and financial matters if you become incapacitated, according to an article “Estate planning in case of incapacity” from The Sentinel-Record. For most people, the POA becomes effective at a later date, when the person signs a written authorization to act under the document, or when the person is determined to be incapacitated. This often involves having the person’s treating physician sign a notarized statement declaring the person to be incapacitated. This type of POA is referred to as a “Springing POA,” since it springs from a future event.

The challenge with a springing POA is that it requires reaching a point in the person’s life where it is clinically clear they are incapacitated. If the person has not yet been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, but it is making poor decisions or not able to care for themselves, it becomes necessary to go through the process of documenting their incapacity and going through the state’s process to activate the POA.

For a more immediate POA, your estate planning attorney may recommend creating and signing a Durable Power of Attorney. This allows you to appoint someone to manage personal and business affairs immediately. For this reason, it is extremely important that the person you name be 100% trustworthy, since they will have instant legal access to all of your property.

A Power of Attorney can be customized to include broad powers or limited to a specific transaction, like selling your home.

This is not the only way to allow another person to take over your affairs in the event of incapacity.  However, it is easier than seeking guardianship or conservatorship. Another method is to place assets in a revocable trust, which allows you to maintain control of the assets while alive and of legal capacity. The trust includes a successor trustee, who takes over in the event you become incapacitated or die.

The successor trustee only has control of the assets owned by the trust, so if the purpose of the trust is planning for incapacity, many, if not all, of your assets will need to be retitled and put into the trust.

A properly created estate plan will often use both the Durable Power of Attorney and a Revocable Living Trust, when preparing for incapacity.

Sadly, many people fail to have these legal tools created. As a result, when they are incapacitated, the family must go to court to have a person appointed to manage their affairs. This is usually referred to as a “legal guardianship.” The proceeding to obtain a guardianship is lengthy and complicated. Once the guardianship is established, the guardian must file annual accountings with the court documenting how all of the funds are used. The guardian must also post a surety bond, designed to protect assets in case of improper use.

Guardianship and its costs and time-consuming tasks can all be avoided with a properly prepared estate plan, including planning for incapacity. Whether it be a POA, guardianship or conservatorship, make sure you plan to have documents prepared to use in case of incapacity. If you would like to learn more about POA and other incapacity documents, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: The Sentinel-Record (March 27, 2022) “Estate planning in case of incapacity”

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how to obtain a power of attorney for your parent

How to Obtain Power of Attorney for your Parent?

Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, people have become more aware of the need for a power of attorney should one become incapacitated. But it begs the question: how to obtain a power of attorney for your parent? Tyron Daily Bulletin’s recent article entitled “How to get power of attorney for a loved one” says the person granting you that power, known as the “principal,” must designate you as the agent (also known as attorney in fact) to have the powers specified in the POA document. it must be signed by the principal while he or she is sound of mind.

Talk to an elder law attorney so understand what your state laws say about powers of attorney. Note that you cannot get a POA if someone is already incapacitated because the principal of the POA must be able to sufficiently comprehend what a POA document represents and the effects of signing it. He or she must clearly communicate their intentions.

The agent of a POA must always act in the best interests of the principal. This can include managing the principal’s financial interests or overseeing the principal’s healthcare and may make decisions about their care and treatment.

There are several things as POA that you cannot do:

  • Create a contract to get paid for personal services provided to the principal
  • Vote in place of the principal
  • Create or alter the principal’s will
  • Designate another as the agent on behalf of the principal; and
  • Do anything that is not in the principal’s best interests.

Even if the principal is in good health now, it is smart to plan for potential challenges. You never know when an injury or illness may take away that person’s capacity to manage finances or make important decisions about medical care. The most opportune time to start considering power of attorney is before a parent or loved one requires any caregiving.

Talk with an elder law attorney about how to obtain a power of attorney for your parent. Remember, the principal must be part of the conversation and cannot be mentally incapacitated. If you would like to read more about powers of attorney, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Tyron Daily Bulletin (March 7, 2022) “How to get power of attorney for a loved one”

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Advance Care Planning a Benefit to Seniors

Advance Care Planning a Benefit to Seniors

Advance care planning (ACP) is an ongoing discussion that involves shared decision-making to clarify and document an individual’s wishes, preferences and goals regarding their medical care. This is extremely important to making certain that they get the medical care they want, if they become incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions. Advance care planning is a major benefit to seniors. Despite the importance of ACP, most Americans don’t have their medical wishes documented, according to Medical Life Sciences News’ recent article entitled “Comprehensive approach may promote Advance Care Planning for elderly adults.”

In the pandemic, too many families exhausted themselves attempting to address this issue, agonizing over what their loved one might have chosen for their care if they had been given the chance.

Dr. Angelo Volandes, MD, MPH, physician and researcher, Division of General Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues started the Advance Care Planning: Communicating with Outpatients for Vital Informed Decisions (ACP-COVID) pragmatic trial. This experiment was designed to see if ACP participation during the pandemic would increase following implementation of video decision aids and clinician communication skills training. They also looked at how these interventions would affect ACP documentation among patients from ethnic and racial minority groups, specifically African Americans and Hispanics.

The trial included a large, diverse patient population aged 65+ from 22 outpatient clinics at Northwell Health, the largest healthcare system in New York State. ACP documentation from three six-month time periods was compared:

  1. Pre-COVID-19
  2. The first wave of COVID-19; and
  3. An intervention period.

The findings showed that ACP documentation was significantly greater among all groups during the intervention period, with African American and Hispanic patients showing the most significant increases.

“The stark disparity in COVID-related outcomes for African American and Hispanic patients highlights a reality already known by many: our healthcare system routinely fails to meet the needs of minority patients. No one intervention or initiative is going to correct all those failings though advance care planning, through engaging and empowering patients, is one of the most effective, immediate ways to address disparities in care,” adds Volandes, who is also an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“Fundamentally, advance care planning aims to empower patients. The results of our study demonstrate the importance of meeting patients where they are,” adds Volandes. “Whether that means providing information in their native language or sharing educational material via text rather than a patient portal, if advance care planning is to be about the patient and we need to find ways to ensure that they feel they have the knowledge and ability to make decisions alongside their clinicians when they deem the time is right. COVID-19 has made ACP more important than ever, and especially in communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.” The bottom line is that advance care planning can be a huge benefit to seniors and their caregivers. Work closely with an elder law attorney to begin the planning process. If you would like to learn more about long-term care and nursing home planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Medical Life Sciences News (Feb. 28, 2022) “Comprehensive approach may promote Advance Care Planning for elderly adults”

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Naming Power of Attorney is extremely important

Naming Power of Attorney is extremely important

Naming a person to serve as your Power of Attorney is an extremely important part of your estate plan, although it is often treated like an afterthought once the will and trust documents are completed. Naming a POA needs to be given the same serious consideration as creating a will, as discussed in this recent article “Avoid powers of attorney mistakes” from Medical Economics.

Choosing the wrong person to act on your behalf as your Power of Attorney (POA) could lead to a host of unintended consequences, leading to financial disaster. If the same person has been named your POA for healthcare, you and your family could be looking at a double-disaster. What’s more, if the same person is also a beneficiary, the potential for conflict and self-dealing gets even worse.

The Power of Attorney is a fiduciary, meaning they are required to put your interests and the interest of the estate ahead of their own. To select a POA to manage your financial life, it should be someone who you trust will always put your interests first, is good at managing money and has a track record of being responsible. Spouses are typically chosen for POAs, but if your spouse is poor at money management, or if your marriage is new or on shaky ground, it may be better to consider an alternate person.

If the wrong person is named a POA, a self-dealing agent could change beneficiaries, redirect portfolio income to themselves, or completely undo your investment portfolio.

The person you name as a healthcare POA could protect the quality of your life and ensure that your remaining years are spent with good care and in comfort. However, the opposite could also occur. Your healthcare POA is responsible for arranging for your healthcare. If the healthcare POA is a beneficiary, could they hasten your demise by choosing a substandard nursing facility or failing to take you to medical appointments to get their inheritance? It has happened.

Most POAs, both healthcare and financial, are not evil characters like we see in the movies, but often incompetence alone can lead to a negative outcome.

How can you protect yourself? First, know what you are empowering your POAs to do. A boilerplate POA limits your ability to make decisions about who may do what tasks on your behalf. Work with your estate planning attorney to create a POA for your needs. Do you want one person to manage your day-to-day personal finances, while another is in charge of your investment portfolio? Perhaps you want a third person to be in charge of selling your home and distributing your personal possessions, if you have to move into a nursing home.

If someone, a family member, or a spouse, simply presents you with POA documents and demands you sign them, be suspicious. Your POA should be created by you and your estate planning attorney to achieve your wishes for care in case of incapacity.

Different grown children might do better with different tasks. If your trusted, beloved daughter is a nurse, she may be in a better position to manage your healthcare than another sibling. If you have two adult children who work together well and are respected and trusted, you might want to make them co-agents to take care of you.

Naming a Power of Attorney is an extremely important part of your estate plan. Your estate planning attorney has seen all kinds of family situations concerning POAs for finances and healthcare. Ask their advice and don’t hesitate to share your concerns. They will be able to help you come up with a solution to protect you, your estate and your family. If you would like to read more about how powers of attorney work, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Medical Economics (Feb. 3, 2022) “Avoid powers of attorney mistakes”

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Preventing long-term care abuse

Preventing Long-Term Care Abuse

Elder financial abuse is always upsetting, but it’s even worse when a parent is in a long-term care facility and adult children aren’t there to prevent it or stop it. This is especially true during the pandemic, when restrictions meant to keep residents safe from COVID make them more vulnerable to scammers. Preventing long-term care abuse should be top of mind for adult children.

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a guide to prevent this very same problem, as reported in the article “Preventing Elder Financial Abuse When Your Parent Is In Long-Term Care” from next avenue.

The goal is to help professionals who work with the facilities to recognize red flags, develop policies and protocols and use technology to prevent residents from becoming victims. There’s also a lot of good information in the guide for the children of residents.

One reason elder financial abuse occurs so easily in long-term care facilities is because members of care teams can easily get access to financial records as well as medical records. Putting protections in place before financial abuse happens is the best strategy.

Banking and credit card accounts should be monitored regularly, and fraud alerts should be set up to be sent to the individual and a designated, trusted contact. An outside professional may also be hired to watch over the person’s finances.

Experts recommend listening to their loved ones during visits, online or in person. When a senior complains about money or personal belongings going missing, don’t assume these are part of cognitive issues. Take steps to investigate and document findings.

If an aging parent mentions a strange phone call or an unusual request by a staff member, immediately check their accounts, even if they insist no personal information was shared. Scammers are very good at what they do and can easily convince a victim nothing wrong has occurred. Even if something didn’t occur this time, a single phone call or conversation may be a warning of the parent being on someone’s radar as a possible victim.

Pay attention if small amounts of cash are missing from accounts. Scammers typically begin small, testing the waters to see if the person, their family, or the financial institution is paying attention. Banks cannot discuss your parent’s finances with their investment advisor, due to privacy rules, so the designated family member needs to be in touch with any institutions handling their money.

One of the most common ways of preventing long-term care abuse is a durable Power of Attorney. If no family member has been given Power of Attorney over financial accounts, this is a must-do, as long as the parent has legal capacity to grant this power. The POA gives the person the legal ability to manage financial accounts. If the person is incapacitated, it may be necessary for the child to be named guardian. An estate planning attorney will be able to discuss the situation and recommend the best way forward for the individual and their family. If you would like to learn more about elder financial abuse, or long-term care abuse, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: next avenue (Dec. 17, 2021) “Preventing Elder Financial Abuse When Your Parent Is In Long-Term Care”

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Information in our blogs is very general in nature and should not be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Please feel free to contact Texas Trust Law to schedule a complimentary consultation.
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