It is estimated that nearly four million Americans suffer some form of mental dementia, most commonly Alzheimer's Disease. That figure is expected to triple by 2050. With the onset of dementia comes the growing need for assistance with such common daily tasks as dressing and feeding oneself, administering to even modest financial matters, and providing for one's own medical care. If you have a loved one who has difficulty making sound financial and lifestyle decisions, contact an experienced elder law attorney to discuss the possibility of establishing a guardianship or conservatorship to aid your loved ones.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Elder Law
Q: If I want to stay in my own home, do I have other options besides a nursing home?
A: Yes. If you want to stay in your home, you have options that may be less expensive and stressful than a nursing home. You could obtain a reverse mortgage on your home, long-term care insurance or support through federal or state funding sources. A family member, friend or paid caretaker may be able to help you with personal care. If you want to stay in your home, an experienced elder law attorney can advise you about your options.
Q: What are Medicare and Medicaid?
A: Medicare and Medicaid are government-sponsored programs that help pay for medical care. Medicare is a federal program for the disabled and people aged 65 or over. Medicaid is a federal-state program for low-income families with children as well as the needy, aged, blind and disabled.
Elder Law - An Overview
As the "baby boomer" generation gets older, aging Americans and their families increasingly encounter legal and practical concerns in caring for elderly loved ones. An attorney experienced in elder law matters at The Elder & Disability Law Center in Washington, DC, can assist clients in planning for the future through powers of attorney and advance directives to ensure that proper medical treatment is provided. An attorney can also advise on long-term care insurance or other funding options that foster the most independence and security for the many elders that want to remain in their homes.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
Guardianship and conservatorship questions may arise when an elder relative or older friend shows signs of incapacity or cannot handle personal care or financial matters. A guardian or conservator is only appointed if a judge determines the person, frequently referred to as a ward, is incapacitated or incompetent, depending on the law of the state. The guardian or conservator could be a spouse, child, friend or other interested party.
Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives for Health Care
Many people worry about what could happen to them if they suffered a medical emergency or became incapacitated. Luckily, most states recognize the need to plan for future incapacity with planning tools referred to as advance directives. Advance directives can include durable powers of attorney for financial matters or health care, and "do not hospitalize" or "do not resuscitate" orders. With these tools, people can direct one or more persons to make certain health care and financial decisions in the event of their incapacity. States have different requirements, so it is important to understand what documents are needed to create valid advance directives.
Planning for Long-Term Care
As medical technology advances and life spans increase, many Americans fear the financial strain that rising long-term care costs will have on their life savings.
Caring for Elderly Family Members
As seniors grow older, symptoms of physical and mental disability may arise. These disabilities often deprive people of the cognitive skills needed to make sound decisions and the physical abilities to care for themselves on a daily basis. Elder law clients frequently turn to their families to provide the day-to-day assistance they no longer can provide for themselves.
Elder Law Resource Links
Administration on Aging
The Administration on Aging is a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services advocating for older Americans. Its website contains information on legislation and resources for older Americans.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website is the official site of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for information on Medicare, Medicaid, regulations and statistics.
National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services developed the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information website to provide resources for individuals and families to plan for long-term care.
The National Guardianship Association
The National Guardianship Association strives for a nationwide excellence in guardianship. Its website offers newsletters, information on ethical considerations and practical guides on various issues pertaining to guardianship.
CaringInfo, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), provides free resources to help people make decisions about end-of-life care and services before a crisis.