Department of Public Health Takes “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” Approach to Nursing Home Abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 24, 2015

CONTACT:

Mike Connors, CANHR

(415) 974-5171 mike@canhr.org

Julie Pollock, CANHR

(415) 974-5171 julie@canhr.org

Department of Public Health Takes “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” Approach to Nursing Home Abuse

San Francisco — The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has taken an official position opposing AB 348, a bill by Assembly Member Cheryl Brown that would require timely investigations of abuse and neglect reports filed by nursing homes. In fighting to preserve its longstanding practice of ignoring nursing home abuse complaints, the Department of Public Health has once again sided with perpetrators of abuse against their victims.

In recent years, the chronically mismanaged Department of Public Health has been under near continuous investigations by federal and state authorities for its shoddy oversight of nursing homes. A scathing report by the California State Auditor in October 2014 revealed that the Department had more than 11,000 open nursing home complaints, a number that has continued to grow.

The Department often puts the most serious cases of abuse and neglect on the bottom of its investigation file. For example, on November 13, 2013, the Department issued a $100,000 fine to Rosewood Post-Acute Rehab, a skilled nursing facility in Carmichael, nearly seven years after the facility caused a resident’s death on January 1, 2007 by overdosing her on Warfarin, a powerful blood thinning medication.

AB 348, which is before the Senate Appropriations Committee, was introduced to fix this problem by requiring the Department to complete investigations within 60 days beginning in July 2018. Interim timelines would begin to phase in in July 2016.

Pat McGinnis, Executive Director of CANHR, stated: “The Department’s position on AB 348 is a disgrace. It is unconscionable that its leaders are fighting to allow it to continue ignoring complaints about nursing home residents who are suffering from abuse and neglect.”

The Department took its stance against AB 348 shortly after the Legislature gave it funding in June to add over 300 new positions – an extraordinary increase – for its Licensing and Certification Division and its counterpart in Los Angeles County. After representing to the Legislature that this vast expansion of its workforce would allow it to perform its workload, the Department reversed course in opposing AB 348 and now argues it cannot be expected to investigate abuse and neglect cases reported by nursing homes in a timely way.

The Department’s letter of opposition offers misleading excuses for its position. For example, it claims the bill would force it to investigate insignificant concerns, such as grievances over room temperatures. In fact, AB 348 would require it to investigate facility reported allegations of violations of applicable requirements of state or federal law, such as the right to be safe from abuse. It appears that the Department officials may not have even read AB 348 before opposing it.

AB 348 has near universal support from numerous organizations, individuals, and the nursing home industry and has won unanimous support from the Legislature to this point. The Department of Public Health stands alone in opposing it.

#####

About CANHR: California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), is a statewide nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to improving the choices, care and quality of life for California’s long term care consumers. Through direct advocacy, community education, legislation and litigation it has been CANHR’s goal to educate and support long term care consumers and advocates regarding the rights and remedies under the law, and to create a united voice for long term care reform and humane alternatives to institutionalization.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR)

650 Harrison Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94107

www.canhr.org

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR)
http://www.canhr.org
Tel: 415-974-5171
Fax:415-777-2904

Is Your Aging Client Safe From Family Predators?

          This really happened.

grandmapicIf you had this 91 year old client, what would you do?

 Emma liked to play the sweepstakes.  But her memory was starting to decline. A lot.  When it came to her bank account, she forgot to check her statements as she had always done.  Odd withdrawals began.  Hackers had gotten in.  Before she realized what had happened, someone had withdrawn a total of $40,000.  It was time for her family to act.  Emma was a planner. She had trusted her son and put his name on her trust, her durable power of attorney and her health care directive.  But her son needed cash. He became an opportunist.
 
She had a daughter too, but she was old fashioned and thought the man should take care of the money.  Her son, Jonny knew his mother needed to stop handling her finances.  So, he rushed her off to the clinic and told the doctor what happened with her bank account.  After 15 minutes, the doctor, without doing any psychological testing on Emma decided that she was no longer capable of handling her affairs. He and another clinic doctor signed a handy form letter to that effect and gave them to Jonny.  Jonny then went to both Emma’s banks with a copy of the trust appointing him to take over when Emma could no longer handle her affairs. He produced the two form letters from the doctors and was instantly given access to Emma’s account. He withdrew all of her cash, a total of $20,000.
 
Jonny then informed Emma that she was coming to live with him. He would charge her $1000 a month to live there.  Emma was very angry. She admitted that she could no longer keep track of finances, but she did not want to give up her home, her community and the things she loved to do. She was alert, and knew what losing her home would mean. Jonny worked full time. His idea of a life for his mother was to take her to adult day services early every morning and leave her there until after 6pm when he returned from work.  She wanted none of it. She felt betrayed, duped into giving Jonny all the power and furious that he could run her life without any interest in what she wanted.
 
There is danger in assumptions.  Loss of the ability to handle finances safely does not mean in every case that a person can’t make decisions about where to live, what she wants and who should be in charge of her affairs. Emma had the strength to stand up to her son. She contacted us with her daughter at AgingParents.com.  Was Emma too impaired to change her trust?  The only way to safely answer this controversial question was to have Emma undergo psychological testing and some interviews with Dr. Davis, my partner here.
 
Testing was done and two interviews on different days were conducted.  Result:  Emma had mild cognitive impairment and still had the ability to decide who should handle her affairs. She did indeed have significant short term memory loss but many of her other abilities were intact.  Her daughter then took her to a local attorney and she immediately changed her trust to appoint an independent, licensed fiduciary to be her new trustee.  I doing so, Emma removed all power from her son. She put her daughter on the trust too, but only for oversight of the fiduciary. The fiduciary would have complete decision making ability as to how Emma’s funds should be spent. And she gave authority to her daughter on her healthcare directive to decide where she would live, as she knew that her daughter would honor her wishes to remain in her home, with a helper, for as long as possible.
 
The risk of making the assumption that loss of capacity for financial decisions means total loss of the ability to think or decide everything else can lead to disaster. Emma was nearly kidnapped by Jonny who was determined to make his little scheme work, all to his benefit ($1000 a month). With total power in his hands, he likely would have immediately sold her house as well.  She was fortunate to have escaped a fate that would have made her both frustrated and miserable.
 
The takeaway here is to beware of too hasty conclusions that an aging parent is completely incapable of decisions other than financial ones. Financial capacity may be the first intellectual ability to go when impairment begins but it is not a sign that the person has no ability left for anything else. While it is true that many impaired elders grossly overestimate their own ability and insist on living in unsafe conditions, some elders are not as impaired as circumstances might suggest. Psychological testing can provide important objective data to help families make the right choices.  Emma was willing to do whatever it took to stay in her own home. At 91, we at AgingParents.com thought she deserved that dignity, at least.  Emma has regained her sense of control and we’re glad for her.

Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney, Mediator

Dr. Mikol Davis, Psychologist, Gerontologist

AgingParents.com and AgingInvestor.com

Are You Worried That You May Have To Be Financially Responsible For Your Aging Parents?

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Are You Worried That You May Have To Be Financially Responsible For Your Aging Parents?thefamilyguide

If you don’t know what to expect as your parents grow older and you’ve never thought about what can go wrong, you might face an unnecessary crisis.

Consider all the legal, financial, and care needs your parents may have. These can fall on you. It can be confusing and stressful if you don’t know what to do or how to prepare.

The Family Guide to Aging Parents provides immediate answers for any adult child who has questions about how to best help their aging loved ones. Author Carolyn Rosenblatt uses her experience as an RN and Elder Law Attorney to guide you through smart planning so you can prevent disasters. Thinking proactively will ease your anxiety when it is your turn to step up and help. If you are already helping aging parents, you will be relieved to learn the best ways to overcome difficulties they present.

Imagine:

  • Being able to competently choose a home care worker, assisted living, or nursing home, knowing the pros and cons
  • Being able to find just the right words to approach your aging parents with the conversations you need about finances
  • Knowing how talk to your aging loved ones about giving up driving when the time comes
  • Being able to plan ahead for an aging parent who is running out of money and taking advantage of all benefits available to them
  • Understanding how to get past your aging parents’ resistance about getting help, using a successful approach
  • Knowing how to best protect your aging loved ones from financial predators

 

About the Author: Author Carolyn L. Rosenblatt combines her backgrounds in nursing and law to create a unique and practical path for you to follow in preparing yourself.

She has assisted thousands of aging clients and their families with problems in both healthcare and legal issues. She currently consults with adult children of elders at AgingParents.com, with her psychologist husband, Dr. Mikol Davis in San Rafael, CA.

Book Details:

Title: The Family Guide to Aging Parents: Answers to Your Legal, Financial, and Healthcare Questions

Author: Carolyn Rosenblatt

Publication: April 28, 2015

Price: $18.95

*Available from bookstores, online booksellers and www.agingparents.com

 

 

Learn why we all need to protect our aging loved ones from “Financial Elder Abuse”

Carolyn Rosenblatt – The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents – interview – Goldstein on Gelt – Jan. 2015

Three Ways Families With Aging Parents Can Stay Out of Court

courtroomDo you get along with everyone in your family?  Lots of people don’t. Old conflicts can rise up when aging parents start to decline in health and need help.  When there is conflict in families, it can sometimes escalate to the point that the parties involved hire lawyers.  After that the lawyers may have an interest in keeping the fight going and no one attempts to resolve the issues. Attorneys fees can take a huge bite out of what Mom or Dad left to their heirs.  Is there a way to avoid these ugly and expensive scenarios?
If you don’t get along so well with everyone in your own family and you hope it never comes to a legal battle about your aging loved ones or their estate, consider these three ways to completely stay away from the courts.
First, make sure your aging parents’ legal documents are in order, up to date and clear.
Sometimes laws change between the time a parent first gets a will or trust done by a lawyer.  20 or 30 years can pass and they never look at the paperwork. Divorces, changes in the situation of the intended heirs and other things can create a need to update the will and trust.  Urge your parents to either get these documents done if they haven’t yet or get the existing papers reviewed and updated by an attorney nearby while your aging loved ones are still competent enough to understand what they are doing.
Besides a will and trust aging parents need a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and Advance Healthcare Directive (also called a living will or power or attorney for health).  Without these documents, legal problems can arise for anyone caring for an aging parent.  When an elder develops dementia, he is going to need help with a lot of things, particularly handling finances. The DPOA will allow the appointed agent the legal authority to act on behalf of the impaired elder and protect him from dangerous financial decisions.
Second, plan ahead for the possible need for care and how aging parents would pay for care when the time comes.
 
One of the biggest problems families have is how to pay for care for parents who lose their independence.  I have seen bitter battles between siblings, accusations of abuse, destruction of relationships and struggles that last for years when families fail to discuss and plan for care of their loved ones.  It’s expensive and there is usually no outside source to pay for the care that parents may need for the long run. People are living longer than ever.  Sometimes, they outlive their savings and have no funds to cover the cost of help in the home.  They may consider assisted living, but can’t pay the monthly fees. The burden then falls on family to provide the care. The person who provides it is often the daughter or daughter in law. She may not get any help at all from other siblings. There is a financial value to providing care, even when it comes from family, but many families fail to recognize this and don’t anything to compensate or help the primary caregiver.
The unfair burden on one sibling in providing care is a frequent source of friction, resentment and anger in families. After a parent dies, the caregiver sibling may feel justified in bringing a legal action to claim a larger share of any inheritance, as payment for providing the care. This can be avoided by discussion, planning, sharing the load, and sometimes by creating written agreements about caregiving among family members.
Third, use mediation when a fight is brewing, before it boils over into a lawsuit.
 
Mediation is an organized process, conducted by a trained and experienced mediator to help willing parties resolve disputes through their own decision making process.  No one tells the parties what they have to do. No one judges them. Rather, they come together, either in person or by Skype, and with the assistance of the mediator, who is a neutral outsider, they get direction and suggestions about possible alternative  ways to work out their issues.  The parties come to their own resolution by making their own choices.  Everyone gets a chance to be heard. The mediator keeps order and facilitates the discussion, which fighting siblings or others usually can’t do on their own.  Many conflicts are successfully resolved through mediation.
Summary
 
Most family disputes can be avoided or worked out with good planning, open communication and the smart use of mediation.  It takes some effort to have the needed communication with aging parents and with siblings to get these things done, but it is well worth the effort.  Avoid the pain that legal cases can create in families and take a step in the right direction to prevent them by initiating the needed conversations.
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney, Mediator
Dr. Mikol Davis, Psychologist

Who Is Competing For Your Aging Client’s Attention and Dollars?

AliceDavisCompetition for clients has always been there, but as investors age, something you might not have anticipated can happen. The vultures are out there.  Competition with you for their invested assets can become an increased threat when an older client’s judgment is compromised. With impaired judgment, they might fall for the “free meal” seminar, a device to get them to buy an inappropriate product.
 
An older client who has always behaved a certain way about her investments can go through changes because of cognitive decline. You have absolutely no control over this process and in fact, you may not even notice it initially.  Cognitive impairment can come on very subtly at first. What it can do over time is to cause your client’s ability to make good judgments about finances to go downhill.
 
A person who is actually ok financially may start to worry unreasonably that he is going to run out of money. Or a spouse gets ill and the costs of care skyrocket, making your client think he needs to do something fast to get a high return on his investments.  There are a lot of slick salesmen out there who know this and count on it.  They are the first ones to offer your client a free meal and a so-called “financial education seminar”.
 

According to FINRA research,  64 percent of those responding to a survey of people age 40 and over had been invited to an “educational”  seminar with a free meal offered.  FINRA, the SEC and state regulators conducted more than 100 examinations involving free-meal seminars.

They found that in half of the cases, the sales materials contained claims that appeared to be exaggerated, misleading or otherwise unwarranted. And fully 13 percent of the seminars appeared to involve fraud.
 
These highly polished and sleazy sales people are more than happy to tell your client that they can do a lot better for the client than you are doing with your old, conservative and safe investment strategy.  They dress well, have engaging personalities and are looking for someone who is fearful or easily manipulated. That could be your client.  No matter how educated, smart or experienced your client is, anyone can suffer from loss of cognitive ability.  Aging investors may not be as sharp as they were in a younger day, due to memory loss or other issues. The early warning signs of memory loss also suggest erosion of financial judgment.  That can lead to impulsive purchases and lack of financial judgment about the risks.
 
What can you do about this? You have an opportunity to do a campaign with all your older investors which can enhance your image, increase the frequency of contact with them and educate them in the process.  It could be a series of emails or personal letters.  Remember that FINRA has issued a warning to all investors to be wary of the free meal “educational” seminar.  You are the good guy or gal, bringing them this important information from regulators who want to protect them.  The body of your email or letter can contain this information:
 

For every consumer, note these points FINRA wants you to keep in mind before you attend any “investment” or “financial education” seminar, especially with a free meal.

1.  Investment seminars are intended to sell you something. Their purpose in not merely educational.
 
2.  Beware of the persuasive effect of a high end venue, an expensive meal and a smooth, well-dressed presenter.  These are collectively designed to impress you, but it does not mean that the opportunity being pitched it right for you.
 
3.  Find out who is really sponsoring the event.  At times,  insurance companies, mutual funds or other companies offering their products are behind the pitch, financing the event and expecting that the speaker, who could be someone you know or recognize, will use the event to drive sales of their products.
 
4.  You can use FINRA’s Broker Check (800) 280-9999 to see if the presenter is licensed to offer financial products.  If the sponsor is an insurance agent, find out if he is licensed through your state department of insurance or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  You can find out information about the one offering products for sale through your state’s securities regulator or the North American Securities Administrator’s association at (202) 737-0900.
 
Feel free to copy this right into a letter to your clients today. Vary it with your own words and headline. Anyone age 50 and up would be a good candidate to receive it.
 
Stay in communication with your aging clients.
 
Let them know you are concerned about the prevalence of these offerings by supposedly qualified people and ask if they’ve been solicited to attend any of them.  If they tell you they want to go to a seminar, dig deeper. Ask questions. Offer to check out the presenters.  If you step up the frequency of contact, particularly with an automated system of emailing your clients, you can only enhance the relationships you have with them.  And in the process, you can not only build loyalty but perhaps save some of them from being seduced away from your responsible management by educating them about potential financial danger.
 
We encourage you to comment and share your own stories so that we all can become better informed and educated about new scams and ways to protect our older clients and family members.
 
Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, R.N., Elder Law Attorney & Dr. Mikol Davis, Psychologist, Gerontologist

 

Boomers: Will You Need Care In Your Own Future?

Hello again, from Carolyn and Mikol at AgingParents.com!  
Wishing all of you a beautiful season.
Here’s a subject that many of us are involved in right now.1-mom-daughter4 copy
Millions of us Boomers are caring for an aging parent.  Some take their loved one into their home, and some move to be closer to the aging parent. Some provide care from a distance. Some live nearby and do a great deal, often on a daily basis for their family member.  Many see parents living to surprisingly old age and see the amount of care their loved one requires.
I have a friend whose grandmother was very independent for quite a long time, but she had a stroke and fell. Everyone thought she was at her end.  Her granddaughter, in her 60’s, moved grandma to a care facility near the granddaughter’s home. Grandma didn’t recognize anyone at first. They planned for her demise.  But she pulled through.  She’s going on 105 years old now and her health seems to be stable.  She is improving, though still very frail.
Grandma, in this case, has assets.  She is paying for her own ruinously expensive care facility, which required supplementing the staff with a private caregiver from outside the home.  She has “graduated” from that level of need now and isn’t ready to die just yet.  But what if grandma didn’t have any money? Her family would provide for her.   Imagine you are in grandma’s shoes.
Many people simply do not want to face this issue, or somehow believe that they will avoid needing long-term care.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years.” About 35 percent of aging individuals will need nursing facility care.  That’s us, too, not just our parents and grandparents.
Here are 3 things every Boomer should do if you do not want to become a burden to your kids when you’re older.
1.  Face the facts:  we all may need help as we get up there in years.  If the odds of needing long term care and support are 7 in 10, we need to accept the truth of this and not think “it won’t happen to me”.  Accepting the truth means we think it through, and start the plan now, in our 60s or 70s.
2.  Talk about the future with your family members.  Let them know what you have in the bank, what your Social Security and any other income is expected to be at retirement age.  If you plan to keep working in your “retirement” years, as many Boomers will, project what you may be able to earn and save.  Discuss what you would need to earn or have saved if you needed long term support at home or in a care facility.
If you don’t know the costs, contact your Area Agency on Aging and get the local expenses for home help or a care facility, such as assisted living.
3.  Get legal advice about whether Medicaid could be an option for you.  If you do not have much saved, and your income is not going to be much, now is the time to find out about eligibility in your state for Medicaid.  Medicaid is an insurance program for low income people (regardless of age), who do not have many assets. The rules very considerably from state to state.  By spending a little time and a modest amount of money on competent advice, you can learn well ahead of time what you would need to do to qualify for the program.  If you could qualify, Medicaid could cover many services for you that are not covered by anything else, particularly Medicare.  In most states, whatever you do to move or give away assets to qualify you must be done 5 years in advance so that you do not incur a penalty when you need Medicaid.
I’ve heard some friends in their 60s remark: “If I got to the point where I couldn’t take care of myself, I’d shoot myself”.  Well, that’s actually not what happens. Age related disabilities like dementia sneak up on you.  You probably won’t be thinking of ending it all as you are still able to do many of the things you enjoy.  Needing some help is typically not an all or nothing proposition.  We just need to be realistic about it.
I hope I am persuading you why we independent, freedom loving Boomers must recognize that we will probably not be as vigorous at 85 as we might be at 55 or 65.  We just might need someone to give us a hand.  And it’s not free.  So, planning ahead as early as we can makes perfect sense.  Make it your resolution.  Look down the road and be ready for your own future.
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt & Dr. Mikol Davis
 

Reducing Holiday Stress For Our Aging Parents

2013-08-21 18.30.24Holiday get togethers with family are notoriously stressful, especially when an aging parent or grandparent has a problem with remembering things.  It may be diagnosed as dementia or not, but you can tell that your aging parent has memory loss problems. When this is happening in your life, there are things you can all do to reduce the stress on aging parents and yourself during a family gathering.
 
When a family member is living with memory loss, even in the early stages, we need to acknowledge it and adapt.  The extra movement and activity, as well as the mood of gatherings have an impact on a person who is affected with any form of memory loss or forgetfulness.  We can start by accepting that the changes in our aging loved ones are not within our control and that we need to be aware and respectful with extra consideration.  Denial and pretending it’s all the same as it was in the past are not workable.
 
Things within the brain of a person with memory loss, cognitive impairment or dementia are not the same as before the onset of these issues.  On the outside, your loved one may look the same, and their surface conversation may seem rather normal, at least in the early stages.  But keeping up with the rapid social banter,  and normal conversational exchanges may become difficult for the person who has memory loss and problems processing information.
 
Here are 3 things anyone in a family can do to make things easier for the person who has memory problems.  Confusion and difficulty keeping track of information can be embarrassing for them.
 
1.  Avoid overstimulating your loved one.  Too much of a party, longer hours than normal and upsetting the usual routine can cause distress. Watch over your loved one and offer her an early exit if the evening stretches out past her usual bedtime.
 
2.  Speak a little more slowly and carefully to and around your loved one. This does not suggest treating him like a child.  It’s about being considerate of the changes of aging. Do not expect the level of participation from him that you enjoyed in the past.  He’s different now and may have more trouble engaging and answering questions.  Keep it simple.
 
3.  Share the responsibility.  If an aging parent has cognitive impairment, those who look after them have a full time job.  Give the primary caregiver a break and take a turn at being the caregiver for the evening. If that’s a sibling, she’ll likely appreciate the relief you offer.  That can be an excellent gift from you.  If the primary caregiver is happy, your aging parent will feel it.
 
 A face to face visit during holidays can be an opportunity to start the discussion with your loved ones about their future.  If family is gathered, take time before or after a celebration to meet and talk over who can do what and get input from other family.  Working together when possible to help aging parents can save a lot of stress later on.  And include your aging parent in the discussion.  Honoring her preferences when possible is a good start to keeping her safe as she ages.
 
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt
 
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Do you know about these 5 scams targeting seniors ?

What You Don’t Know About Medicare Open Enrollment Can Cost You

docwithpatientsmallMikol and I wish you well from AgingParents.com.
As you’re probably seeing ads on TV or getting solicitations in the mail about Medicare plans, here are a few things you should know if you, your aging parents or a family member have Medicare or are about to become eligible soon.
 
There is a lot of competition to get your Medicare dollars and your money for the supplemental plans most people buy. Medicare only pays 80% of covered medical expenses so most people buy a supplemental plan.  Some insurers put both together and offer you an all-in one thing:  basic Medicare, a supplemental component and a prescription drug component together.   
 
Every insurer out there will try to get you to think their all in one plan is better than someone else’s.
The nonprofit organization, National Council on Aging offers a free educational service for those boomers just getting ready to enroll in Medicare, and for those already receiving it who want to avoid making mistakes. It’s called My Medicare Matters. Open enrollment started October 15. That means if you want to start the benefit or want to change plans, now is the time.
 
It’s always difficult for an ordinary person who isn’t experienced in comparing insurance plans to figure out what to do. If you already have Medicare, should you change?  If you are just getting started and are being besieged with sales hype about various plans (they’ve got your number!) it can be confusing.  I face this myself now.  Should I get out of the Medicare Advantage plan I have?   
 
A deciding factor for me came from working with a 66 year old client who has traditional Medicare. She lives in suburban San Francisco and recently left a nursing home, following a very long stay after a stroke.  I was helping her very overwhelmed adult daughter look for a doctor for her outside the nursing home.  Her former doctor retired. The nursing home discharge person, who could have done a far better job, had no doctor recommendations.  I researched the area on the net. Only one out of 8 offices I called would take traditional Medicare and would accept a new patient.  That’s awful!  My client had to make a trip to the ER after she got out of the nursing home and the doctor there gave her a list of suggested doctors she could see for follow up. Not a single one of them would take a new Medicare patient! This is reality.  Doctors don’t necessarily want to accept traditional Medicare. They make less money on Medicare patients than they used to do. 
 
Insurers have negotiated rates to make it more profitable for the insurer when the patient is in a  Medicare Advantage plan (all in one, Parts A & B as well as D for prescription drugs), and they will switch off covering certain things that are a greater risk to them. When they drop coverage for something you need, you pay out of pocket for it.  Insurers now must offer at least as good coverage in a Medicare Advantage plan as one would get with traditional Medicare. All must also offer certain preventive care services now under the Affordable Care Act, which does help seniors.  Don’t fall for the hype that preventive care is particular or some big deal if you go with any particular insurer. Every Medicare plan is required to offer this benefit of basic preventive care.
 
I just know seeing the struggle my client had to even get a doctor at all made me want to stick to what I’ve got. I’m a low use kind of person, with no medications to worry about having to cover. Medication coverage is a very important item for most people looking for the best plan. You need to start with that. What do you take and what medications does the plan you have cover?
 
The NCOA offers tips on how to choose what’s right for you.  They tell us it’s a big mistake to not re-evaluate your coverage every year.  From My Medicare Matters, here are some questions they suggest you ask yourself:
  • Has your health changed in the last year?
  • Is your current plan still meeting all of your health needs?
  • How much have you paid out of pocket in the last year and for what?
  • Is your plan changing in the coming year?  How will that affect your out of pocket costs?
  • Are there better options available to you?
If your doctor is on your plan now, it doesn’t mean the same will be true in the coming year.  If all the medications you take  are now covered now, they may not all be on the approved list your insurer creates for the coming year. They have to inform you about changes, and you need to really pay attention to that.  Research shows that the average consumer could save $300 or more annually if they review their Part D (medication coverage) annually.  In other words, it can pay to switch.
 
Here at AgingParents.com  I meet adult children who are worried about having to step in and provide financial support for parents whose limited or fixed income does not allow for big changes in out of pocket medical expenses.  If you’re in that category, it will be worth your while to take a good look at your aging parent’s Medicare coverage, now that it’s open enrollment  time once again.  Failure to do so could come back to bite you. If their plan has dropped coverage for an expensive drug they need, will they ask you to pay for it?  Take the time and help out.  Use the resources available such as My Medicare Matters or other benefits counseling services in your loved ones’ community. Free advice is generally available to help you.
 
Until next time,

Would You Immediately Recognize These Elder Abuse Hidden Scams?

Most days at I get a call from an adult child of an elder, asking me about shady dealings over a elderimageparent’s finances. Sometimes it’s the niece, grandson, or other family member the caller is worried about. Sometimes it’s the caller’s sibling whose actions are in question. And all the cases I hear about have something in common: red flags of elder abuse are present, but no one is taking any action to stop them.

For example, a 62 year old woman whose mother is 90 called and said she is worried because she lives at a distance from her mother and her niece who is caring for the mother won’t return her calls or emails. And she also told me that a step-brother is a stockbroker and has financial power of attorney over her mother.

That’s 2 red flags, and she was just warming up.
Most abusers are family members. Caregivers are next and professionals, like stockbrokers, lawyers, financial advisers and insurance brokers are next in line for frequency of abuse. I do all I can to educate and urge action by family members to stop abuse when it happens and when it’s suspected to get a closer look.

I recently saw a new publication from our government, designed to raise people’s awareness about financial abuse and what an agent should and should not do when acting as agent on a financial power of attorney document.

Elder abuse is a huge international problem, and it’s finally getting more attention from the Federal government, thanks in part to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They came out with an excellent free little booklet to help folks understand how to handle someone else’s money when they get appointed as a Power of Attorney. It’s called Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help for agents under a power of attorney.

You can get it here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201310_cfpb_lay_fiduciary_guides_agents.pdf.

Here’s what I like about this booklet.

It’s clear. It tells you what you can and can’t do as an agent. If you’re interested in being honest, it gives your guidelines to keep it that way. On the other side of the question, unscrupulous agents use the paper as a license to steal. Unfortunately, no court is involved and no one is watching. They help themselves to an elder’s money, house, investments, and anything else of value and some seniors are left destitute. I believe that sometimes, education can help family members stop other family members from committing this abuse. They can also warn the elder who is living independently about the sneaky thieves who devise ways to get elders’ money that are not so obvious. The booklet warns about some common scams. Not everyone knows about these and they keep getting victims to give up money.

The booklet lists 10 scams. I’ve picked a few to reiterate here for you. Would you know about these if they were going on with your elder right now?

1. Relative in need. Someone pretending to be a family member or friend calls or emails and says they are in trouble and need the elder to wire money right away. And by the way, you don’t have to be frail and isolated to get one of these pitches. I got one myself recently. Someone had hijacked my sister’s email address and sent emails to all of her like named contacts asking to wire money to her in a foreign country. Didn’t work with me, but it does get people to wire money to thieves. If no one fell for the scam they would stop, but it goes on.

2. Fake government funding. The recipient gets an official looking letter from a pretend government agency offering help with housing, home repairs, utilities or taxes. Just give them your credit card info and you get the help. Vulnerable and low income seniors fall for these scams because they are worried about the very things the ripoff artists offer them.

3. Home improvement. Targeted elders who own their homes (can be easily found in public records) are approached with an offer to fix something. It can be a roof, a fence or in my mother in law’s case it was to clean the air ducts. They take money in advance, overcharge and do shoddy work, or don’t do the work at all. The trusting elder doesn’t have a way to pursue them, as they disappear.

The booklet is 23 pages and has two pages of resources listed a the back. Among them are Adult Protective Services, and where to get free legal help for seniors. I think they did a fine job on this. Maybe that’s not the way I would comment on a lot of other confusing or poorly written government efforts at educating the public. And they don’t teach you this stuff in school. My hat’s off to the CFPB.

If you have an aging parent or other loved one, or you’re curious because your aging loved one put YOU on the documents that will one day cause you to have to handle their money, check out the booklet for yourself. I’m happy to share the good resource with you. Yep, your tax dollars at work.

Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt

Dr. Mikol Davis
AgingParents.com and AgingInvestor.com

My Mom just discovered the joys of ordering on Amazon

Just discovered the joys of shopping on Amazon

Just discovered the joys of shopping on Amazon


Can you believe my mother is turning 92 years young this week, August 24.

Do You Want To Live To Be 100?

Hello again

We are always fans of those who have figured out how to age well and we always want to learn a few things from them.  Here’s a fine example:

 
The Philadelphia Enquirer recently published a piece about Murray Shusterman, a 101 year old working Philadelphia lawyer who has been practicing law since 1936.  The article reports that “his mind is sharp, even if his hearing has dulled. His love for the law still shines.”

 
pmurrayHere’s what I gleaned about Mr. Shusterman’s long life.  He hasn’t set them out as instructions for us, but in studying how the oldest old who do well and remain independent there are features in common with most of them. Here’s a summary: 
 
1. The happiest and most productive centenarians are very engaged in life. They all have a record of past or current involvement in their communities.  For Murray, it was everything from serving as counsel to the Commission on Human Relations and helping write city laws on fair housing and employment to involvement with his alma mater, Temple University. He has been deeply involved as a leader in many Jewish causes.

2. They face difficulty with stubborn determination.  Murray’s son, Robert Shusterman an architect and lawyer is quoted as saying of his father, “He keeps pushing himself as hard as he can, and tries not to complain about things. He has a determination, a will to overcome impediments.”
 
3.  They are generous with their time and assetsIn 1994 Murray and his family gave $1 million to Temple Law School for the renovation of Park Hall, which reopened as Murray H. Shusterman Hall. Last year, Shusterman did more – donating $1.1 million to Temple Law to sponsor a professorship.“His commitment and generosity have been an inspiration,” law school dean JoAnne Epps is quoted as saying at the time.
 
4. They share their wisdomShusterman taught law as an adjunct professor for more than three decades, served on the university board of trustees, and in 1992 was elected an honorary, lifetime trustee.
 
5. They don’t take themselves too seriously.  Here’s what Murray had to say to the reporter when asked about his best and worst experiences in life: 
 “A person has many experiences over time, some good, some bad. . . . The real secret is to be decent, to be fair, and to be forgiving – now and then even a friend will do something that annoys you. And don’t take yourself too seriously.” 
 
6.  They stay active.  Murray describes himself as being active all his life.  He played golf until age 100. He is the father of 3 sons and had a long marriage, widowed in 2005.  He doesn’t, from the stories about him, strike one as a couch potato.
 
The story of Murray is not about what to eat or what exercise to do.  It is about much broader concepts and a philosophy of life.  Yes, he is surely blessed with good genes. Science tells us that our genetic makeup is only about 30% responsible for how we age. The rest is how we live our lives, how we spend our time.  Lifestyle is responsible for the other 70% of how we age.  I’d say Murray Shusterman  is doing a fabulous job on how he lives his life, wouldn’t you?
 
I was inspired by Murray and hope you are too.  Even if you pick only one of the above six things he does and do more of it, you just might increase your chances of a longer, healthier life.
 
If your aging parent is not a bit like Murray, and you wish she were, or you’re just having issues with her, contact us at AgingParents.com. We can ease your anxiety about a difficult parent with just the guidance you need now.  If that deep fear and worry you have about your loved ones is giving you an upset stomach, this is the place to get help and calm your fears.
 
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt and Mikol Davis
 
 

We are always here to help you through the many challenges in life, you can always take advantage of our Free complimentary telephone meeting. Just click HERE provide us with some information about your questions or issues and we will schedule our meeting.

It’s time for a good laugh

The Polite Way to Pee

During one of her daily classes, a teacher trying to teach good
manners, asked her students the following question:
‘Michael, if you were on a date having dinner with a nice young lady,
how would you tell her that you have to go to the bathroom?’
Michael said: ‘Just a minute I have to go pee.’
The teacher responded by saying:
‘That would be rude and impolite.

What about you Sherman, how would you say it?’
Sherman said:
‘I am sorry, but I really need to go to the bathroom.
I’ll be right back.’

‘That’s better, but it’s still not very nice to say the word bathroom
at the dinner table.
And you, little Johnny, can you use your brain for once and show us
your good manners?’
Johnny said:
‘I would say: Darling, may I please be excused for a moment? I have to
shake hands with a very dear friend of mine, whom I hope to introduce
you to after dinner.’

The teacher fainted.

Tigra went to doggie heaven

Carolyn and I want to sincerely thank everyone in our AgingParents family for your most kind thoughts and prayers.

Tigra our most wonderful dog and companion has gone to the great dog park in the sky.

May she rest in peace.

CRLwithTigra

 

117_0210

What Our Very Old Dog Is Teaching Us

Hello again,

Carolyn and Mikol here.
tigraOur sweet 16 year old dog, Tigra, getting frail, is in failing health now.  She is teaching us about acceptance.  I don’t want to learn it.  I don’t want to know that I will soon have to let go.

We’re losing our elders and we’re losing our aging pets.  I am reminded of our clients who describe the struggle of realizing that an aging parent or spouse getting too old to manage alone anymore or is fast going downhill, yet they don’t want to face it.  We empathize and offer support and direction. Now I feel the same about Tigra. I wish someone would offer me a direction. I don’t want to face it.

And nearly every week, I hear from friends, colleagues and acquaintances that they are losing their parents and grandparents at an accelerating rate. Their elders are in their 80s, 90s and more.  My friend’s grandmother is 104 and  rapidly declining in health.  My friend is sad and she is having a hard time with it, just as her daughter is getting married.  She is a lot like the rest of  us.  Life goes on, and there are happy things to look forward to, but at the very same time, we can’t part with the ones we love so easily, no matter what else is happening.  
I look at my beloved pooch getting weaker by the day.  The vet has kindly explained all the things that are failing.  Tigra has nearly given up eating.  I know humans often do the same near the end, too. It’s a sign, yet we urge them to eat nonetheless.  We don’t want to just say, ok, I will make peace with your choice not to eat.  We coax Tigra to take a bit of this or that and she looks at me as if to say, “Don’t you get it?  I’m 16 years old, I’m getting near the end, so just be all right with that”.  I’m not.  I’m so not all right with it. 
I am desperately trying to learn what the old gal is trying to teach me, that I must accept that her end is inevitable.  You see, she has been a nearly constant  companion for both Mikol and me these 16 years. She comes to work and sleeps at my feet or Mikol’s every day.  We’ve had thousands of walks together and done a zillion errands. 
When Mikol fell ill some years ago, she knew. She would not leave his side until he recovered two weeks later.  They have bonded ever since.
The life lesson our pets teach us is that our time with the ones we love is ever so precious.  We want to appreciate it and not take it for granted. And we want to thank the ones who have given us so much for all they have done, whether they are human or pets.  And we need to just be with the sadness we feel when it’s time to let go.  We need to grieve and not fight it.  And we need to also focus on what is good and happy in our lives too, as that is what gets us through this.
For anyone reading this who is facing a loss at this time, we’re with you. Share it with the  people close to you. Just putting it in words can be a relief. And reach out to hold someone’s hand if you can. It really helps.  And you are helping us by letting us tell you about what is going on.  We thank you.
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt and Dr. Mikol Davis

The Worst Excuse For Not Protecting A Vulnerable Parent

 This one shocked me.  

elderrageman-229x300Here at AgingParents.com we’ve been hearing elder abuse tales for a long time, but I was stunned when I heard this.
A family of 3 siblings has been worried  about their widowed father, who lives alone in the country. He is very comfortable, but not extremely wealthy.  6  years ago he got sucked into an internet scam.  He believes he has been sending money to refugees in Africa and he is going to get a lot back soon as a reward.  He is completely addicted to the contact with the scammers. They send him 50 of emails a day. He is mesmerized.  This seems to be his social life.
His daughters are worried and have of course, tried to talk him out of it.  By their calculations he has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the scammers.  When I heard about this a year ago, I offered them several alternatives.
  
One was to have a family meeting of the siblings to develop a unified strategy and to do so immediately.  We could be there to facilitate it.
 
Another was to do an intervention to attempt to get him to commit to a change of authority over the partnership that controls his wealth. That is a service we can provide at AgingParents.com.  We were ready to go.
Another was to use the legal means they already have to begin to get funds away from their father to protect him from eventually depleting everything.  Some funds were in a partnership and their father had agreed to give up control to the partnership but had failed to follow through.
There is one sibling with leadership, who made the first call. However she did not follow up for a year. When she called more recently, things had not improved, Dad had lost even more money and he was developing more signs that he needed help with his life beyond money.  Alternatives were again offered, this time with more immediacy. A crime is underway and they are still not doing what needs to be done to stop the abuse.
This time, they are “thinking about it”.   One sister reportedly wants to “give Dad a chance” to stop giving away his money on his own. I would call that a very ineffective plan.
We do know that financial elder abuse costs our elders $2.9B per year, every year.  Scenarios like the one here are part of it. Every family needs to be aware and every family needs a better plan than this family had.  If they want to watch Dad’s money flow into the hands of criminals, they can keep doing as little as they are doing.  If they want to bring it to a halt, it will take a very assertive plan of action and the will to carry it out.
 
Our courts are interested in protecting elders from such abuse and are willing to grant family members the power they need to stop abuse if all other efforts fail. Guardianship (conservatorship in CA) is a legal way to get control over finances so an elder won’t keep being abused. An aging person does not have to be incompetent to be a victim of elder abuse. Judges can grant guardianship (conservatorship) over just the money and not the person if that is what the lawyer and family request.  A court looking at how an internet scam drained several hundred thousand dollars from an elder would likely meet the standard the court would need to grant the guardianship to protect the financial safety of the father in this case.
What stopped this family from taking steps to impose control or, failing that, to seek conservatorship?  They didn’t want to offend their father.  I was appalled.  If they don’t think he would be offended by becoming destitute I guess that excuse would do.  In my book they were lacking the guts to do what was needed.
Every person with an aging loved one needs to be aware of the risks.  Isolated, lonely elders are at high risk. The scammers are extremely good at hooking their victims, almost hypnotizing them.  If you have aging parents, remember, it can happen to anyone.
Get advice at AgingParents.com when you have a loved one, especially with any memory problems. The memory problems go hand in hand with loss of financial judgment.
Until next time,
 
P.S.

We are always here to help you through the many challenges in life, you can always take advantage of our Free complimentary telephone meeting. Just click HERE provide us with some information about your questions or issues and we will schedule our meeting.

This is what 66 looks like

What is the secret to successful aging ?

alice

 

With retirement and aging, older adults can find themselves with a lot of free time and not many ideas of what to do. Some alternatives to keep the mind busy and active are volunteering, starting another business, embarking on an encore career, engaging with one’s community, and caregiving or taking responsibility for grandchildren or friends with limited mobility.

These things can help us to build structure and purpose into our lives as we age and as we care for our own parents. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most popular pastime for older adults is watching TV. According to a MetLife study in 2012, socialization and communication as well as recreation and exercise decreased from 13% to 10% after the age of 75. My friend, Dr. Arnold Bresky, a preventive gerontologist, has come up with a nine point system of ways to be proactive in healthy aging and both prevent and treat symptoms of dementia.  These tips can be applied to our own health in addition to our aging loved ones.

1.    Fun and laughter: have 9 hearty laughs per day.
2.    Relaxation, meditation or prayer: meditate or pray at least once a day.
3.    Tunes Rx: Play joyful and relaxing music at least 15 minutes a day.
4.    Sleep: Ideally sleep 8 uninterrupted hours between 11PM and 7PM.
5.    Physical exercise: exercise everyday and track your progress. This can be anything from a slow, gentle walk to pool workouts, going to the gym, or taking a class.
6.    Nutrition: eat a low fat Mediterranean diet. Many of our aging parents do not get the nutrients and vitamins they need. A low-fat Mediterranean diet that consists of things like olive oil, fresh fruit, vegetables, and low sugar options.
7.    Hydration: drink 6, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. So many of us forget this important step. This is exceptionally true for older adults who can get dehydrated from medications and other sources.
8.    Learn something new: Do crossword puzzles, create art, or take a class to acquire a new skill. Engaging our aging loved one’s minds can be a critical step in preventing depression.
9.    Practice Acts of Kindness: reach out and make another person smile at least once a day.

My 91-year-old Mom is the poster girl for healthy aging. She lives alone, still drives during the day, gets together with friends often to socialize and play games, takes classes at the local community college, exercises in the community pool, takes care of her diet and walks on the treadmill for 20 minutes every morning. Although caring for our aging loved ones and ourselves can be challenging at times, making sure to take the steps to age healthily can ensure our ultimate success.

Introducing Dr. Albert Freedman age 91 years.

albert

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  • Learn why we all need to protect our aging loved ones from “Financial Elder Abuse” April 3, 2015
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