Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Loneliness Doesn't Have to Be Permanent.

Kaiser Health News ran a story about the impact of loneliness in elders. Like Hunger Or Thirst, Loneliness In Seniors Can Be Eased explains that loneliness is "fixable". 

[L]oneliness is the exception rather than the rule in later life. And when it occurs, it can be alleviated: It’s a mutable psychological state... Only 30 percent of older adults feel lonely fairly frequently, according to data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, the most definitive study of seniors’ social circumstances and their health in the U.S....The remaining 70 percent have enough fulfilling interactions with other people to meet their fundamental social and emotional needs.

There are significant physical  and psychological manifestations of loneliness but the good news is that it can be resolved.  The article discusses a study on loneliness, with one result worth mentioning here, "[w]hat helped older adults who had been lonely recover? Two factors: spending time with other people and eliminating discord and disturbances in family relationships."  The study also examined loneliness prevention factors; the "study also looked at protective factors that kept seniors from becoming lonely. What made a difference? Lots of support from family members and fewer physical problems that interfere with an individual’s independence and ability to get out and about."

The article distinguishes between loneliness and isolation, an important point. The article discusses a couple of ways to alleviate loneliness: altering perceptions and investing in relationships. The article also mentions a project from The Netherlands, "a six-week “friendship enrichment program”  [with the] goal is to help people become aware of their social needs, reflect on their expectations, analyze and improve the quality of existing relationships and develop new friendships."

May 23, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Growing Opposition to Consolidation of Departments of Aging into Other State Departments

As I reported here for the first time recently, Pennsylvania's Governor Wolf has proposed consolidation -- or as he prefers to call it -- unification -- of four separate administrative agencies, the Departments of Aging, Health, Human Services (formerly Public Welfare) and Drug & Alcohol Treatment Programs.  Are similar budget-driven changes occurring in your state?

As I catch up with events in Pennsylvania, I'm learning from readers about growing concerns about the possible merger.  

  • As one recently retired PA legislator pointed out, there seems to be little in the way of a written plan for how services will be handled under this merger.  Rather, the merger appears mostly as a description of budget items, with a lot of "minus" signs to indicate cuts.  Perhaps by design, Pennsylvania government is often a bad example of transparency for governments.  What is the real plan, if any?  
  • With the consolidation, at a minimum, older Pennsylvanians would be losing a cabinet level post, their singular, dedicated spokesperson. This would be likely to affect all future budget and programming battles.
  • The timing is, to use a favorite Trump adjective, "sad."  While the leading edge of the big wave of aging baby boomers began to be felt a few years ago when those born in in 1945 started turning age 65 in 2010, the "real" need for an effective advocate is when boomers start turning age 75, age 80 and so on, the higher ages when they are more likely to need or question access to services.

Perhaps of greatest significance is the potential impact of consolidation on the process for assessment of need for services and assistance, especially Medical Assistance.  

Under the current allocation of resources, "assessment" of need is handled by individuals employed under the authority of Pennsylvania's Department of Aging.  

However, the financial allocations are currently determined under the authority of the Department of Human Services.  Consolidation might make sense on paper, but wait

As one of my mentors in aging, Northern Ireland's former Commissioner of Older People Claire Keatinge, says, to be helpful, fair and effective, any individual assessment of need for health care, social care and security, should be exactly that -- individualized and focused on the client,  and should not be simply a match to "what services (if any) are available."  That process-based distinction is critical to determining current and future funding priorities.

In Pennsylvania, the lion's share of budget and personnel for aging services has long been housed in the Department of Human Services (formerly Public Welfare), but those workers -- perhaps by necessity and perhaps by design, have often functioned as dedicated bean counters, as in "here's what services we fund, so do you or don't you meet the eligibility criteria?"  

By losing the aging assessment focus of the current Department of Aging, it seems likely the state would compromise, and perhaps lose entirely, the independent thinking and opportunity for critical needs-based assessment.

Several elder-focused organizations have raised these and other key points in opposition to the existing budget-based consolidation proposal.  Those active in the debate include:

  • The Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (PAELA)  has asked thoughtful legislators to "oppose such consolidation" as presented in the current budget proposal.   As Pittsburgh Elder Law attorney Julian Gray testified on May 1 in state Senate hearings, a "bigger" agency is not necessarily a "better" agency. 
  • Representatives for the service organization for Pennsylvania senior service workers, P4A, testified strongly in favor of the role of the Department of Aging as the advocate for the "unique needs of seniors."  Speakers focused too on the Department's historical role in protecting and managing a unique funding stream dedicated to seniors, "lottery" funds.
  • Long-time practitioner and elder law guru, Jeff Marshall, has a comprehensive commentary, with links, detailing the history and importance of Pennsylvania's Department of Aging.  There's a simple bottom line expressed here -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  
  • Related articles

May 23, 2017 in Consumer Information, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 22, 2017

More on Tech and Elders

The Pew Research Center released a new report on tech use and older adults. Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults explains the rise in "wired" elders:  "[a]round four-in-ten (42%) adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013. Internet use and home broadband adoption among this group have also risen substantially. Today, 67% of seniors use the internet – a 55-percentage-point increase in just under two decades. And for the first time, half of older Americans now have broadband at home."  That seems like good news, but what about those who aren't connected? "One-third of adults ages 65 and older say they never use the internet, and roughly half (49%) say they do not have home broadband services. Meanwhile, even with their recent gains, the proportion of seniors who say they own smartphones is 42 percentage points lower than those ages 18 to 64." 

The report shows a correlation between use and age, income and education. The report discusses tech adoption by type of tech, obstacles to adoption and use, levels of engagement and perceptions of the value of tech on society. A pdf of the 23 page report is available here.

May 22, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Save the Date: Free Social Security Webinar

Justice in Aging has announced an upcoming webinar on Social Security. Legal Basics: Social Security is a free webinar scheduled for June 13, 2017 at 2 p.m. edt. 

Social Security is a popular social insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration. It provides critical resources and economic security to many workers who are retired or have a disability, as well as to their survivors and dependents. This webinar is designed for legal services and other advocates who are just getting started in the field and others who want to learn more about the essentials of the program. This Legal Basics: Social Security webinar will cover the basics of the Social Security program and the rules surrounding it, including general information on how the program works and who is eligible to claim benefits (including spouses and children). We will also discuss other basic information such as timing considerations when applying for benefits, how benefits are calculated, and suggestions on where to find further information.

To register for this free webinar, click here.

 

May 18, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement, Social Security, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Are You Using Social Media?

If you scoffed at this title, thinking "of course I am" then you are not alone. But, if you scoffed at this title, thinking "nope, I'm not" then you are not alone either.  The Pew Research Center Fact Tank released another News in Numbers, this time on social media use. Not everyone in advanced economies is using social media found higher usage in certain countries than others. Sweden, US, the Netherlands and Australia are top in social media use (about 70%)  by country. But what about use by age?  "The age gap on social media use between 18- to 34-year-olds and those ages 50 and older is significant in every country surveyed. For example, 88% of Polish millennials report using social networking sites, compared with only 17% of Poles ages 50 and older, a 71-percentage-point gap."  With a 71% age gap in Poland taking the #1 place in the Pew brief, the U.S. was ranked last with only a 34% age gap in social media use. 

May 17, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ombudsman Volunteers Work!

Earlier this month Kaiser Health News (KHN) ran a story about Ombudsman volunteers. Volunteers Help Ombudsmen Give Nursing Home Residents ‘A Voice’ In Their Care discusses the local ombudsman volunteers and their importance regarding a resident's quality of care.

Ombudsman’s offices, which operate under federal law in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam, investigated 200,000 complaints in 2015, according to the Administration on Aging, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Of those, almost 117,000 were reported to have been resolved in a way that satisfied the person who made the complaint, and about 30,000 were partially resolved. At the top of the list were problems concerning care, residents’ rights, physical environment, admissions and discharges, and abuse and neglect.

Ombudsmen volunteers have a right to enter a long term care facility and talk to residents or anyone else. They investigate complaints and can find issues on their own, and maintain confidentiality.  The article emphasizes the importance of volunteer ombudsmen to the success of the programs. There's more involved than putting your name on a list. Ombudsmen volunteers go through training, must pass background checks, are supervised on a few first visits and attend monthly meetings.   The article notes the spectrum of experience held by the volunteers but identifies one commonality, "an abundance of compassion."

May 17, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Webinar: Successful Investigation & Prosecution of Financial Exploitation

The Justice Clearing House has announced an upcoming webinar scheduled for June 20, 2017 at 3 p.m. edt.  Paul Greenwood, Prosecutor from California will present How to Overcome Barriers to Successful Investigation and Prosecution of Elder Abuse Cases.

Drawing upon his 21 years experience of prosecuting both physical and financial elder abuse and neglect felony cases, Paul will highlight some common misconceptions that often hinder the pursuit of justice for elderly victims. He will provide examples of how such barriers can be avoided and will emphasize the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach that should be led by local prosecutors in every jurisdiction. He will confront likely “excuses” as to why certain cases cannot be prosecuted such as “It’s just a civil matter” or “She has dementia and therefore won’t make for an effective witness” or “he gave the money voluntarily so there is no crime.”

To register, click here.

May 16, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Medicare Out of Pocket Costs: More Than You May Think

The Commonwealth Fund has released a new issue brief regarding Medicare out of pocket costs. Medicare Beneficiaries’ High Out-of-Pocket Costs: Cost Burdens by Income and Health Status examines the out of pocket costs faced by Medicare beneficiaries" "Fifty-six million people—17 percent of the U.S. population—rely on Medicare. Yet, its benefits exclude dental, vision, hearing, and long-term services, and it contains no ceiling on out-of-pocket costs for covered services, exposing beneficiaries to high costs."  The issue brief concludes that

More than one-fourth of all Medicare beneficiaries—15 million people—spend 20 percent or more of their incomes on premiums plus medical care, including cost-sharing and uncovered services. Beneficiaries with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level (just under $24,000 for a single person) and those with multiple chronic conditions or functional limitations are at significant financial risk. Overall, beneficiaries spent an average of $3,024 per year on out-of-pocket costs. Financial burdens and access gaps highlight the need to approach reform with caution. Already-high burdens suggest restructuring cost-sharing to ensure affordability and to provide relief for low-income beneficiaries.

The Commonwealth Fund used 2 "indicators" in doing the research, the "High total cost burden" and "underinsurance". The issue brief notes that lower-income beneficiaries may have significant out of pocket costs. "When premiums, cost-sharing, and spending on uncovered services are included, more than one-fourth of all beneficiaries (27%)—an estimated 15 million people—and two of five beneficiaries with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level spent 20 percent or more of their income on health care and premium costs in 2016." As far as the other indicator, the Commonwealth Fund found "that one-fourth of beneficiaries are underinsured—that is, they spend at least 10 percent of their total annual incomes on medical care services, excluding premiums. Of beneficiaries with incomes below the poverty level, one-third spent 10 percent or more... Despite having Medicare or supplemental coverage, these people are effectively underinsured." (citations omitted).

The brief concludes with these observations:

Despite the substantial set of benefits that Medicare provides, many beneficiaries are left vulnerable because of financial burdens and unmet needs. As Medicare enters its sixth decade and the baby boom population becomes eligible, the costs of the program will increase, likely placing it on the policy agenda. Despite Medicare’s notable recent success in controlling costs per beneficiary, total spending will increase as the program covers more people.

The high financial burdens documented in this brief illustrate the need for caution. Half of Medicare beneficiaries have low incomes; one-third have modest incomes (200% to 399% of poverty). Any potential policy should first consider the impact on beneficiaries.

Access and affordability remain key concerns. In any discussions of potential Medicare reform, it will be important to pay particular attention to consequences for those vulnerable because of poor health or low income. Indeed, the findings point to the need to limit out-of-pocket costs and enhance protection for low-income or sicker beneficiaries.

As the single largest purchaser of health care in the country, Medicare policies directly influence insurance and care systems across the country. With a projected one-fifth of the population on Medicare by 2024, keeping beneficiaries healthy and financially independent is important to beneficiaries, their families, and the nation. (citations omitted).

May 15, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elder Financial Abuse Video from Pennsylvania Departments of Banking and Aging

Here's a seven-minute video on elder financial abuse, focusing mostly on "scam artists," from the Pennsylvania Departments of Aging and Banking & Securities.  You might find this useful for classes.

I found the discussion of "mild cognitive impairment" interesting, especially as it allows a conversation about planning without the dreaded words, dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.

May 15, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Preventative "Support Visits" Starting at Age 75 under Consideration in Northern Ireland

On May 10, 2017, my research colleagues Gavin Davidson (Queens University Belfast) and Subhajit Basu (University of Leeds) participated in a policy briefing at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.  They appeared in support of recommendations by the Commissioner of Older People (COPNI) Eddie Lynch on a major plan for modernization of social care programs for vulnerable adults (of any age).

Professors Davidson and Basu focused on three key recommendations:

  1. Northern Ireland should have a single legislative framework for adult social care with accompanying guidance for implementation. This could either be new or consolidated legislation, based on human rights principles, bringing existing social care law together into one coherent framework.
  1. All older people in Northern Ireland, once they reach the age of 75 years, should be offered a Support Visit by an appropriately trained professional. This will be based on principles of choice and self-determination and is aimed at helping older people to be aware of the support and preventative services that are available to them.
  1. Increasing demands for health and social care reinforce the importance of considering how these services should be funded. All future funding arrangements must be equitable and not discriminate against any group who may have higher levels of need.

The audience, which included researchers, social service program administrators and elected officials (not only from Northern Ireland, but elsewhere, including the Isle of Man), reportedly responded strongly to the recommendations, especially to the concept of specially-trained "support visitors," offered to persons age 75 or older. The intent is to provide individuals with planning support and, where needed, medical assessment.  Guidance and information is often needed for pre-crisis planning, thus moving in the direction of prevention of crises and reduction of need for last-minute response. The support visitor concept has been used successfully in Denmark and other locations in Europe.  The next step for Northern Ireland would likely be a pilot or test project.  

As a co-author of the research reports that led to the COPNI recommendations, working with Professors Gavin Davidson and Subhajit Basu as part of a team headed by Dr. Joe Duffy of Queens University Belfast, I found it an interesting coincidence that at almost the same time as the Northern Ireland government session, I was addressing similar interests in "preventative" planning while speaking on elder abuse in a "Day on the Hill" program at the Capitol in Pennsylvania, hosted by the Alzheimer's Association.  It is clear that on both sides of the Atlantic, we are interested in cost-effective, proactive measures to help people stay in their homes safely.   

May 12, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement, Social Security, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pennsylvania Governor Pushes State Merger of Departments of Aging, Health, Human Services and Drug & Alcohol

I'm on a crash course of "catching up" now that I am back in Pennsylvania, having been away on sabbatical for the last academic year and living (mostly) in Arizona.  On May 9 I participated in a "Day on the Hill" event in Harrisburg, sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association in Pennsylvania.

To kick off the afternoon sessions, Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne, along with Deputy Secretary of Health Corey Coleman, spoke in support  of Pennsylvania Governor Wolf's plan to merge operations of four separate state departments, that of Aging, Health, Human Services (formerly Public Welfare) and Drug and Alcohol Programs into a single department called Department of Health and Human Services.  The timeline for this decision is looming, as the Pennsylvania Legislature's budget session is scheduled to end on June 30. 

Secretary Osborne pointed out that overlapping programs between the different departments complicate the ability of the state to serve related interests.  For example, "protective services" are administered by separate units for children, disabled adults, and older adults.  While acknowledging cost savings from consolidation is certainly one goal -- as the state is in an on-going budget crisis -- Secretary Osborne expressed her strong support for a clearer organizational chart, as a way to clarify and meet the needs of Pennsylvanians on common issues.

The Alzheimer's Association is not taking a position on the consolidation, instead focusing on the state's accountability and continued or enhanced dedication to serving impaired Pennsylvanians and their families, especially caregiver family members.

For more on Pennsylvania Tom Wolf's budget plan as it affects seniors, see the PA website on the Budget Documents.  And as anyone knows who follows Pennsylvania legislative sessions, the real language and details are likely to emerge in the wee hours of the session, following a lot of horse-trading.  

May 11, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Taking a Closer Look at "Gray Divorce" Statistics

Writing for the Institute for Family Studies, George Washington Law Professor Naomi Cahn and University of Minnesota Law Professor June Carbone dig into the black and white of statistics on "gray" divorce, with interesting observations. For example:

First, some good news for everyone: the divorce rate is still not all that high for those over the age of 50. Yes, it has doubled over the past 30 years: in 1990, five out of every 1,000 married people divorced, and in 2010, it was 10 out of every 1,000 married people. And yes, the rate has risen much more dramatically for gray Americans than for those under 50; in fact, there was a decline in the rate for those between the ages of 25-39. But the divorce rate for those over 50 is still half the rate for those under 50.

Divorce for older individuals often does have significant impacts for individuals in retirement, as they point out:  

These statistics don’t mean that gray divorce isn’t a problem. Those who divorce at older ages, like those who divorce at younger ages, tend to have less wealth than those who remain married, with the gray divorced having only one-fifth of the assets of gray married couples. Compared to married couples, gray divorced women have relatively low Social Security benefits and relatively high poverty rates. While gray married, remarried, and cohabiting couples have poverty rates of four percent or less, 11 percent of men who divorced after the age of 50 were in poverty, and 27 percent of the women were in poverty.

For more, read "Who is at Risk for a Gray Divorce?  It Depends."

May 10, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Alzheimer's Caregiver Boot Camp

Kaiser Health News ran a story about a boot camp for caregivers who care for those with dementia or Alzheimer's.  Boot Camp’ Helps Alzheimer’s, Dementia Caregivers Take Care Of Themselves, Too explains the importance of caregivers learning to take care of themselves while caring for others.  The boot camp featured in the story hosted "25 people who went to a Los Angeles-area adult day care center on a recent Saturday for a daylong “caregiver boot camp.” In the free session, funded in part by the Archstone Foundation, people caring for patients with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia learned how to manage stress, make their homes safe and handle difficult patient behaviors. They also learned how to keep their loved ones engaged, with card games, crossword puzzles or music."  The article mentions the direct correlation between the caregiver's health and the care the provide to others.

UCLA's boot camp was started 2 years ago; the catalyst in part was the frequency of hospitalizations for those whose caregivers weren't ready for the job. UCLA currently offers 4 boot camps a year, but plans are underway to increase the number. California is not the only location for boot camps. Boot camps have taken place in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia.

May 9, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Multi-Disciplinary Team Toolkit

The Elder Justice Initiative (EJI) has announced the release of  a guide and toolkit for creating Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT).  The EJI has an MDT Technical Assistance Center (or MDT TAC). EJI is also offering a free webinar to help users get started creating an MDT.  The email announcement explains how to get started:

The Elder Justice Initiative (EJI) is pleased to announce the launch of the new Multidisciplinary Team Guide and Toolkit. The Toolkit is designed for anyone looking to create or grow a local elder abuse MDT, regardless of their experience with MDTs. The web-based Toolkit is enhanced for use on mobile devices and contains easy-to-download PDF sample documents and citations.

On May 30, take a live walk through the Toolkit. The EJI webinar will cover many aspects of the Toolkit, including:

  • Layout and usability
  • Highlights from each chapter
  • Questions and feedback

To download the 10 chapter toolkit, click here. To register for the webinar, click here.

 

May 8, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Return to Nursing Home After Hospital

Justice in Aging, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care have issued another in the series of issue briefs about the revised nursing home regulations.  Return to Facility After Hospitalization covers several important topics including notice, bed holds, right to return and appeal rights. Here is the executive summary:  

Bed hold rights are set by state law. Federal law complements state law by requiring facilities to notify residents of those rights. Notice of bed hold rights must be provided at two separate times: in advance of a hospitalization, and at the time of transfer to a hospital. The advance notification must include the resident’s right to a bed hold, whether the state’s Medicaid program pays for a bed hold, and the facility’s bed hold policies (which must be consistent with state and federal law). The time-of-transfer notification must describe the resident’s bed hold rights under the facility’s policy.

Federal law also establishes a resident’s right to return to the facility even if a bed hold period has been exceeded, or if the resident did not have a bed hold. The resident can return to her previous room if available, or to the next available room if the previous room is not available. The regulations specify that the resident can request a transfer/discharge hearing if the facility refuses to accept her back.

 

May 8, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

FINRA Rule on Financial Exploitation of Elders

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has announced that the SEC has approved a new rule that is specific to customers who are elders.  The summary explains Regulatory Notice 17-11

The SEC approved: (1) the adoption of new FINRA Rule 2165 (Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults) to permit members to place temporary holds on disbursements of funds or securities from the accounts of specified customers where there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation of these customers; and (2) amendments to FINRA Rule 4512 (Customer Account Information) to require members to make reasonable efforts to obtain the name of and contact information for a trusted contact person for a customer’s account. New Rule 2165 and the amendments to Rule 4512 become effective February 5, 2018.

The full notice is available as a pdf here. The text of the new rule starts on page 9 of the full notice.

Here is the background from the notice, to give you more information about the reasons behind this rule

With the aging of the U.S. population, financial exploitation of seniors is a serious and growing problem. FINRA’s Securities Helpline for Seniors® has highlighted issues relating to financial exploitation of this group of investors, including the need for members to be able to more quickly and effectively address suspected financial exploitation of seniors and other specified adults The amendments to Rule 4512 and new Rule 2165 provide members with a way under FINRA rules to respond to situations in which they have a reasonable basis to believe that financial exploitation has occurred, is occurring, has been attempted or will be attempted. Members can better protect their customers from financial exploitation if they have the ability to contact a customer’s designated trusted contact person and, when appropriate, place a temporary hold on a disbursement of funds or securities from a customer’s account. (citations omitted)

Take a look!

 

May 4, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

More Issue Briefs on the Revised Nursing Home Regs

Justice in Aging announced the release of two additional issue briefs concerning the revised nursing home regs.  One brief concerns quality of care and the other, grievances and resident/family councils.

The executive summary for the quality of care issue brief explains 

The substantive requirements for quality of care are retained in the revised regulations, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) affirms the regulations’ overriding goals: supporting person-centered care and enabling each resident to attain or maintain his or her highest level of well-being. Finding all of the requirements presents a challenge, however. CMS has significantly reorganized the quality of care provisions, moving some provisions to other regulatory sections, expanding the standards of the prior regulations, and adding several entirely new requirements.

The executive summary for the grievances and resident/family councils issue brief explains:

 Residents have the right to file grievances and the facility must work to resolve those concerns promptly. A grievance official at the facility is responsible for complaint handling. Each facility must have a grievance policy and provide residents with information about how to file a grievance, how to contact the grievance official, a time frame for complaint review, a written decision, and information about other entities with which grievances can be filed. Written decisions must include, but are not limited to, the steps the facility took to investigate the complaint, the findings, whether the complaint was confirmed or not, and the action the facility has taken or will take to correct the problem.

The resident has a right to: form and participate in a resident council; have family member(s) or other resident representative(s) meet in the facility with the families or resident representative(s) of other residents; and participate in the family council. There must be a staff person assigned to assist both resident and family councils and the council, along with the facility, must approve this person. The councils must be given a private space in which to meet and no one outside of a resident or family member can attend without invitation. The facility must act upon council concerns and recommendations and provide a reason for its decision, although it does not have to implement all that the councils request.

All of the issue briefs are available here.

 

May 3, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Next Up For Senate Committee on Aging

I blogged a few days ago about an upcoming hearing for the Senate Committee on Aging.  That hearing,  on April 27, 2017, concerned the Mental and Physical Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness.   Testimonies from the hearing can be accessed here.

The April 27, 2017 hearing was the first of two parts looking into the issue. As noted in the first hearing

The risks of social isolation and loneliness compare with smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed those associated with physical inactivity and obesity. According to researchers, prolonged isolation is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Isolation and loneliness are associated with higher rates of heart disease; weakened immune system; depression and anxiety; dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease; and nursing home admissions.

The next hearing is set for May 10, 2017 and will focus on Aging With Community: Building Connections that Last a Lifetime.

May 1, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other | Permalink

CMS Reversing Course? Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses

Late last week I learned that CMS may be reversing course on prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home admission contracts.  I couldn't decide if my response should be "say it isn't so" or "you have got to be kidding me". Nevertheless, Justice in Aging reported in their weekly newsletter, This Week in Health Care Defense  that:

CMS Backtracks on Nursing Home Arbitration Prohibition

As part of last year’s revision of nursing facility regulations, CMS prohibited federally-certified nursing facilities from obtaining arbitration agreements at the time of admission. CMS concluded that it was unfair to have residents and families waive legal rights during such a difficult and chaotic time. Now, however, CMS has reversed course and has filed language that would revise the regulation to allow facilities to obtain arbitration agreements at admission. For more on the revised regulations, see the series of issue briefs developed by Justice in Aging in partnership with the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care.

Serious bummer.

May 1, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare, Other | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

May is Older Americans Month & National Elder Law Month

May is the time of many things. Spring is in full swing, flowers are blooming, we celebrate mothers, the school year is ending, and more. Not only that, May is also Older Americans month and National Elder Law month.   The Administration for Community Living (ACL)  has a website dedicated to older Americans month.  The theme for 2017 is Age Out Loud.  Need ideas for events? ACL offers that here.  Helpful hints for using social media are offered as well.

Elder Law attorneys... are you considering an event or activity? Need ideas? Take a look at NAELA's toolkit for National Elder Law month. Although it's the end of the academic year, consider involving your students in planning and offering events.

If you have something planned, share it with the rest of us?

April 27, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)