Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Elder Abuse Laws: Are They Merely Scarecrow or White Hat Laws?

When researching laws that purport to serve the interests of a target population, such as the elderly, I look to see whether there is an effective enforcement mechanism attached to the law.  Without enforcement, the laws may serve merely as "scarecrows" to deter bad guys (who presumably are reading the laws… right?) or, perhaps, as a means by which legislators can proudly wear their "white hats," to show they are the good guys.  One possible example could be Colorado's civil penalties for violation of the state's consumer protection laws where the victim is "elderly."  C.R.S.A. Section 6-1-112 provides that:

"Any person who violates or causes another to violate any provision of this article [on consumer protections], where such violation was committed against an elderly person, shall forfeit and pay to the general fund of the state a civil penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars for each such violation. For purposes of this paragraph (c), a violation of any provision of this article shall constitute a separate violation with respect to each elderly person involved."

In a recent pro se Colorado case, Donna v. Countrywide Mortgage, the federal district court dismissed all counts of the complaint filed by the borrower, including the count alleging a violation of “Colorado elder law,” concluding that such a private claim must fail because only the attorney general and district attorneys are authorized to seek civil penalties under that law.

Of course, there could be other sources of effective, private rights of action for elder abuse in Colorado law. 

January 6, 2016 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Japan's Aging Population

Aging populations is something faced in every country.  The Wall Street Journal is examining demographics in 2050 as part of Demographic Destiny 2050. WSJ explains it

The year 2050 is right around the corner, and yet it​ is hard to imagine the sweeping changes the world will confront by then. In a multimedia series, The Wall Street Journal helps readers ​envision how we will work, how we will age and how we will live.

Graying Japan Tries to Embrace the Golden Years, an article focusing on Japan,  is accompanied by 360 video as well as the ability to watch in virtual reality. Examining trends and past history of demographics leads some in Japan to be pessimistic about the graying of the population, while others take a different view,

Pessimists say the only way to keep Japan from inexorably drifting into bankruptcy is radical change, like a sudden, sharp influx of immigrants—an unlikely prospect given Japan’s history as one of the world’s most homogeneous cultures.

But a growing number of Japanese executives, policy makers and academics challenge that proposition. They are exploring whether modest adaptations can ease the woes of an aging society, or even turn the burdens into benefits… start[ing] with steering the growing number of healthy 60- and 70-year-olds from retirement into work… point[ing] to new aging-related growth engines, including an automation spending boom to stretch Japan’s declining labor force, and a growing “silver market” of elderly consumers drawing down savings from a lifetime of hard work and thrift….

The article discusses the ups and downs of an elder workforce and the potential of technologies to help workers. It also covers how the increasing aging population impacts the consumer goods market. It's a fascinating read and I think it would be useful to assign to students.

January 4, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Long Term Care Insurance-the Choices Are Complex

The New York Times on December 18, 2015 ran an article about LTC insurance. Long-Term Care Insurance Can Baffle, With Complex Policies and Costs opens with this compelling statement: "[insuring] for long-term care is a lot like trying to cover the future financial impact of climate change. It’s a universal problem that looms large, is hard to predict and will be costly to mitigate."  The article provides a critical look at the need for long term care insurance and the hurdles that are faced by those considering the need for long term care.

[I]t is a notoriously confusing and not always reliable product. That’s why few people turn to such insurance. Some 70 percent of those over age 65 will require some form of long-term care before they die, but only about 20 percent own a policy.

Instead, millions of those who end up needing long-term care pay for it out of pocket or, after impoverishing themselves, turn to the government for support.

The article takes a look at the costs of the policies, when coverage kicks in, and the limitations of such insurance.  The article offers some suggestions for those considering such a policy and concludes with  some food for thought:

As if these questions weren’t difficult enough, there are also estate planning considerations. You may want to leave something to your heirs and not want to see your estate consumed by long-term care expenses in your final years.

Several newer products called hybrids add on long-term care benefits to life insurance and annuities that may address this concern. But they add even more layers of cost and complexity.

For those in such situations, experts advise consulting an elder law attorney and fee-only financial planner who doesn’t make money from recommending the policies. That’s the best way to receive an objective — and nuanced — evaluation on whether this product makes sense for you.

January 4, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Living Wills: Do they have utility in end of life decision-making?

An article in the most recent issue of the ABA Commission on Law & AgingBIFOCAL focuses on instructional directives.  In light of CMS reimbursing doctors for end of life discussions with patients,  author Susan P. Shapiro, in The Living Will as Improvisation, suggests  "it is appropriate to reflect on the legacy of advance directives and ask how physicians might best serve their patients as they anticipate life’s end."

The author notes that

Although the value of proxy directives, which designate a medical decision maker in the event that a person loses capacity in the future, has been repeatedly demonstrated, that of instructional directives or so-called living wills, which state treatment preferences, has not. A new report by the Institute of Medicine concludes that legal approaches embodied in living wills have “been disappointingly ineffective in improving the care people nearing the end of life receive and in ensuring that this care accords with their informed preferences .... (citations omitted).

However, the author discusses the lack of hard data makes it difficult to determine whether living wills have little usefulness these days. The author turns to her own research, explaining that for 3 years she and hospital social worker

observed medical decision making on behalf of patients without decision-making capacity, day after day, from admission to discharge. Daily observations over the course of each patient’s ICU stay tracked when anyone asked about or referred to an advance directive, how the directive was used, and the correspondence between the patient’s treatment preferences articulated in the directive and the host of decisions made on their behalf....

The article discusses her findings regarding the role of advance directives in these cases .  It's quite illuminating, especially the discussion about the correlation (or lack thereof) between the directive's existence and how decisions are made.  The author suggests there are significant differences between making the directive when all is well and using the directive when all is not.    The author concludes the article with  this thought: "[a] truly directive living will is not a script, but rather an evolving, ongoing dialogue throughout the life course with those who may someday be called to improvise on our behalf. Let’s hope that Medicare dollars are used to help enrich the conversation."

December 31, 2015 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nursing Home Residents-Privacy Violations

An article in the Washington Post shortly before Christmas had me shaking my head at the cluelessness of some employees of nursing homes regarding resident privacy.  Nursing home workers have been posting abusive photos of elderly on social media gave me one of those "you have got to be kidding me moments."  Maybe it's an age-gap thing, but I just can't fathom why it would be appropriate to post intimate photos of individuals with whose care one is entrusted.  The article indicates that this is not a geographically isolated problem:

Nursing home workers across the country are posting embarrassing and dehumanizing photos of elderly residents on social media networks such as Snapchat, violating their privacy, dignity and, sometimes, the law.

ProPublica has identified 35 instances since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers have surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents, some of whom were partially or completely naked. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear for a few seconds and then disappear with no lasting record.

The article offers some illustrations of these photos and the remedies available against the perpetrators.  The article also notes that not only are those photos invading resident privacy, they serve as evidence of the violations.

The incidents illustrate the emerging threat that social media poses to patient privacy and, at the same time, its powerful potential for capturing transgressions that previously might have gone unrecorded. Abusive treatment is not new at nursing homes. Workers have been accused of sexually assaulting residents, sedating them with antipsychotic drugs and failing to change urine-soaked bedsheets. But the posting of explicit photos is a new type of mistreatment — one that sometimes leaves its own digital trail.

How often is this violation of resident privacy occurring? The article notes that "ProPublica identified incidents by searching government inspection reports, court cases and media reports. [A district attorney in Massachusetts] said she suspects such incidents are underreported, in part because many of the victims have dementia and do not realize what has happened."  So far HHS' Office of Civil Rights hasn't sanctioned any nursing homes "for violations involving social media or issued any recommendations to health providers on the topic." The article notes that CMS, in the process of revising the regs dealing with nursing homes, plans to deal with the issue when revising the definitions of various types of elder abuse. Even one of the social media sites referenced in the article expressed concern about the actions of  those nursing home employees.

The article summarizes some cases where charges have been filed.  Read the story and assign it to your students. 

 

December 29, 2015 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Larger "World" of Financial Exploitation

Becky and I write often on the subject of elder financial abuse and the growing attention by financial institutions being paid to exploitation of older persons.  But, recently a colleague from the UK sent me a link to an article that is a dramatic reminder of the larger world of financial abuse as a form of domestic violence.   

From The Guardian, reporting on a survey and campaign by Co-op Bank and the charity Refuge:

Almost one in five UK adults have suffered control or exploitation of their finances by a partner, according to a report published to launch a campaign against “financial abuse.”

 

A survey of more than 4,000 people found that 18% had been a victim of financial abuse in a current or former relationship, and that a third of those affected had never told anyone what was happening. Half of the victims said a partner had made significant financial decisions without consulting them, or forced them to ask permission to spend or show evidence of having done so.

 

Six in 10 of those reporting abuse were female, although victims spanned all gender, age and income groups. For women reporting experience of the problem, the abuse tended to start at key life stages: 71% said it was when they moved in with a partner, 75% said it was when they got married, and 30% when they had children. Among men the figures were 28%, 25% and 30% respectively.

The good news, reported in the article linked above, is that banks are developing codes of practice to create more consistence lines of response for suspected abuse and to "develop awareness-raising materials for customers and train staff to respond appropriately." 

December 29, 2015 in Consumer Information | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Did you see this ad?

It's about an elder whose family can't make it home for Christmas and what he does to gather his family.  You can watch it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6-0kYhqoRo

The Washington Post ran a story about it.  This heartbreaking holiday ad is a powerful reminder of old people’s loneliness.

What do you think of the ad?

December 28, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Film, Other, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Getting (or Giving) Tech Gifts for the Holidays?

Tech gifts are always a popular gift for the holidays, but how much use do they get?   Perhaps it depends to some extent on the age of the recipient, at least for those gifts that require online access.  Pew Research Center recently issued a report that looks at frequency of online access.  One-fifth of Americans report going online ‘almost constantly’  reports on the frequency of online access by age group, as well as by education and income.  I am sure all of us are online a lot (you have to be online to read this post). How did we manage before the internet? (that's tongue in cheek if you were wondering).  "Younger adults are in the vanguard of the constantly connected: Fully 36% of 18- to 29-year-olds go online almost constantly and 50% go online multiple times per day. By comparison, just 6% of those 65 and older go online almost constantly (and just 24% go online multiple times per day)."

How many devices do you have? Odds are, more than one. Another Pew report from November noted that "66% of Americans own at least two digital devices – smartphone, desktop or laptop computer, or tablet – and 36% own all three." Smartphone, computer or tablet? 36% of Americans own all three.  

Want suggestions on what tech gifts to get (or give)? Check out AARP's The Ultimate Guide to Tech @50+ which provides information about 32 different tech gifts in 10 categories, ranging from health to money management.

 

December 24, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Being That "Someone"

While riding on "The Tube" in London recently, I noticed this sign:

Riding on the Tube in London

In case the text in the photo is a little blurry or too small for you, here's what it says:

No one should have no one at Christmas

No one to hang the tinsel with. Or mistletoe for that matter.  No one to share a sherry, a gift or cracker.  No one to say Happy Christmas to.  Or bring you mince pies in bed.  No one to make one day any different from the rest. No one, but no one, should have no one at Christmas. 

The sign was sponsored by Age UK, and the final line is an encouragement to reach out to someone  "older" who is lonely.  Good words for any time of the year.... 

December 23, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tis the Season...for Scammers

Although there is no season for scammers-it's a year round problem. But with the holidays there are specific scams that pop up.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently blogged about holiday scams that target elders.  Beware of Scams Targeting Older People During the Holidays warns that

Scams that target older people occur every day, but you can count on scammers to ramp up their efforts to prey on people’s generosity during the holiday season. These grinches, armed with their dirty tricks, may even weave the holidays into elaborate stories to pull at your heartstrings as they slip their sticky fingers into your wallet.

During the holidays, the common scam known as the imposter or “grandparent scam” might be decorated with a special plea, a story of a relative in trouble who desperately needs money to fix a car or get out of jail – and home for the holidays.

These perpetrators are very skilled at what they do, and they aren't shy about intimidation:

The ruse known as the IRS scam takes on a vicious new twist with a grinch on the phone threatening an elder with being arrested and spending the holidays in jail for unpaid taxes or a fake debt. And then there is the predictable increase in false or imposter charities, which sound identical to the real ones. The pitch is wrapped in sympathy inducing requests for year-end, tax-deductible holiday donations. These grinches stand ready to take your credit card or check routing information and charge you for bogus Nutcracker ballet tickets, or a holiday charity fundraising event.

The CFPB offers tips for folks to protect themselves against these three scams and provides links to information available on the CFPB website. The blog post also appeared on the National Center for Elder Abuse website.

December 23, 2015 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Telephone-Based Hearing Test -- a Low-Cost Screening Tool for Everyone

I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition recently while working on this Blog and that's how I learned about  a great resource, a telephone-based screening test for hearing problems, that individuals can take at home.  Offered by The National Hearing Test, the cost is $5 (free for AARP members) and the process was developed with the help of an NIH grant.  What impressed me is it tests for the ability to hear words (numbers) against background noise, a very realistic screen for many people's concerns.  After taking the test, you are offered guidance and resources for follow-up. The NPR story made the point that unlike vision problems, which are hard to blame on others, it is all too easy for those with hearing problems to assume the problem "is" background noise or a failure of younger people to "speak up."  Further, evaluation of hearing can be an important marker for other health issues, including problems with cognition.

For most reliable results, the website encourages you to use a traditional wired-phone connection, not a cell phone.

According to operation's website (linked above):

The National Hearing Test is provided on a nonprofit basis. It has no financial connections with any hearing products or services. (Free tests are typically offered by organizations selling hearing aids or providing services for a fee.) The $5.00 fee helps defray the costs of making it widely available to the public and processing test data; any remaining money goes to support further research on hearing loss.

Perhaps "taking" the screening test is a holiday present we can give our families

December 22, 2015 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science | Permalink

Monday, December 21, 2015

Three Days Til Christmas. Still Looking for That Perfect Gift for an Elder?

Robert Fleming of Fleming and Curti in Tucson, Az. (Robert is a nationally known elder law and special needs attorney, co-author of the Elder Law Answer Book, an adjunct at Stetson Law, and (in the interest of full disclosure a dear friend)) writes a weekly Legal Issues Newsletter.  The December 7th, 2015 newsletter focused on Holiday Gifts for Older Family Members and Friends. The suggestions run from clothing and other items to help an elder stay warm to various cool technologies and gadgets used in the kitchen or in the home, or even the car.  I liked the stocking stuffer suggestions as well as the phone that comes with captioning.  Robert provides helpful links to the various items suggested in the newsletter.  Check it out!

December 21, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Social Security: File and Suspend No More

Back in October, as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act, Congress eliminated a couple of Social Security claiming strategies (§ 831) that have been getting a lot of press (one is known as "file and suspend", the other, "restricted application").  The New York Times ran an article on December 4, 2015 discussing these strategies that are being eliminated and what options remain for individuals planning for their retirement.  The End of Social Security Loopholes: What Now? examines the role of life expectancy in deciding when to start collecting Social Security retirement benefits. But, "[f]iguring out the best strategy is difficult because few retirees know how long they will live." The article discusses the variables that go into deciding which strategy is best  and notes that these are not "one size fits all" decisions.

The Washington Post also ran an article about the elimination of these two claiming strategies and what that means for individuals planning for their retirement. As one Social Security strategy disappears, consider other smart options focuses on the elimination of the file and suspend strategy and offers 4 tips, including obtaining advice and preparing a budget.

December 20, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Caregiver Drones and Other Robot Caregivers?

I'm fascinated by technology and I've read several articles about the use of technology in caregiving for elders.  With the proliferation of drone use by consumers, I was interested in the December 4, 2015 article in the New York Times As Aging Population Grows, So Do Robotic Health Aides. A robotics prof at the University of Illinois has a grant "to explore the idea of designing small autonomous drones to perform simple household chores, like retrieving a bottle of medicine from another room. Dr. Hovakimyan [the professor] acknowledged that the idea might seem off-putting to many, but she believes that drones not only will be safe, but will become an everyday fixture in elder care within a decade or two."  The use of robotic caregivers is viewed as a way to help folks stay at home longer than now. 

Can technology or robots be used to combat isolation and loneliness?  The article turns to "Brookdale Senior Living, one of the nation’s largest providers of assisted living and home care... [which] is using a variety of Internet-connected services to help aging clients stay more closely connected with family and friends."  According to the senior director of dementia care and programs at Brookdale, "there was growing evidence that staying connected, even electronically, offsets the cognitive decline associated with aging." 

The article features several technologies under development, not just the drones which Dr. Hovakimyan refers to as “Bibbidi Bobbidi Bots."  The article notes that Toyota is even getting into the field, noting that adding artificial intelligence to vehicles to make driving safer and to"make it possible for aging people to drive safely longer."

There are concerns about downsides to the use of such technologies, which are discussed in the article. The article turns to other countries leading the way in these advances and concludes with discussing a number of products currently on the market and how those may compare with in-person interactions. 

Interesting times...

 

December 16, 2015 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

San Diego Joins Other Major Cities in Offering LGBT Seniors a Lower-Cost Housing Option

As reported in the San Diego Tribune, Housing for Gay Seniors Coming to San Diego

A local nonprofit is preparing to build San Diego’:s first low-income apartment complex geared for senior citizens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. When the 76-unit complex opens in North Park, San Diego will join Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco as cities that provide this kind of housing.

 

Such housing is considered crucial because members of the LGBT community often feel unwelcome in ordinary senior complexes, where the older residents tend to be less open to alternative lifestyles.

 

“The people who will live here paved the way for younger LGBT generations, and many of them are forced back into the closet in traditional senior communities because of a lack of acceptance,” said Delores Jacobs, chief executive of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

 

The $27 million complex will be open to all seniors, but the nonprofit building it — Community HousingWorks — plans to create a welcoming environment for LGBT seniors that will encourage them to move in, including on-site supportive services coordinated by the local LGBT Community Center.

December 16, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Consumer Spending: Does Age Play a Role?

JP Morgan Chase & Co. Institute released a December 2015 report, Profiles of Local Consumer Commerce, Insights from 12 Billion Transactions in 15 U.S. Metro Areas. The report reviews "how the growth of local consumer commerce is shaped by the age and income of the consumer, the products sold by the business and its size, and the residence of the consumer relative to the business."  Age is addressed in Finding One.  The executive summary explains Finding One:           "[m]iddle- and high-income consumers, and consumers ages 65 and older, were responsible for most of the slowdown in growth, while low-income consumers and those under 35 maintained relatively stable spending growth."

The report expands on the findings, explaining with Finding One 

We first explore the simultaneous impact of consumer age and income on local consumer commercial spending. Spending is largely driven by income, which for many consumers is strongly related to their age. We define five age and income segments that best explain this pattern (see Data and Methodology for details of this segmentation). Based on these segments, our analyses show that middle-income and high-income consumers ages 35 to 64, and consumers 65 and older, were responsible for most of the slowdown in growth, while low-income consumers 35 to 64 and those under 35 maintained relatively stable spending growth.

 

 

 

Pages 10 - 11 of the report discuss Finding One, along with graphs and charts that accompany the discussion. This 32 page report is heavily data driven and provides good visual aids to accompany each finding.

December 15, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is There a New "War on Drugs" -- or rather, on Drug Pricing?

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is taking up the important issue of drug pricing:

A Senate investigation of drug-price spikes at four companies kicked off Wednesday with specialists from all corners of the health-care system testifying that they're powerless to manage the out-of-control prescription costs.

 

The hearing launches the Special Committee on Aging's investigation into the soaring prices of old drugs, including the recent overnight price hike of Daraprim from $18 to $750.  Doctors and policy experts offered a slew of proposed policy solutions, such as expediting applications for generic drugs to increase competition and requiring companies to reveal how much drugs really cost.

 

But the testimony to the committee in advance of the hearing underlined a stark fact about the current system, too: Doctors, companies that manage prescription drug benefits, hospitals, and health care policy experts alike feel fairly powerless to control high drug prices -- because they are allowed.

 

For instance, a pediatrician from the University of Alabama at Birmingham testified that an infant needed a treatment that had increased from $54 a month to $3,000 a month, causing the pharmacist to scramble for a solution. A kidney transplant patient in Baltimore began experiencing hallucinations as her medical team tried to obtain a drug once easily available.

For more coverage, read the Washington Post's article, Doctors, Hospitals Condemn Out-of-control Drug Prices as Senate Investigation Begins.

December 15, 2015 in Consumer Information, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, December 14, 2015

America's Love of the Automobile: A Trend the Boomers Keep on Driving

Ok, that title was supposed to be somewhat tongue in cheek, but there is some reality to it as well.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal on December 8, 2015,  The Fastest-Growing Group of Licensed Drivers: Americans Age 85 and Up,  "[n]ew data from the Federal Highway Administration shows people age 60 and above represented almost 26% of all driver’s license holders in 2014, up from 20.6% in 2004. Those younger than 30, on the other hand, make up about 21% of drivers, down slightly from 22% in 2004." Discussing the trend that younger generations are moving away from driving, the article notes

[S]ince 2000, people of every age cohort under 60 have been slowly letting their driver’s licenses lapse or have not been getting them in the first place.

Those 60 and above, meanwhile, are now more likely than before to have a valid driver’s license in their wallet.

People age 85 and up represent the fastest-growing group of licensed drivers, the FHWA said.

The article explains this trend is slow moving and offers reasons for its occurrence, especially costs.  The article concludes with a comment that this changing demographic is also changing the highways: "[t]o help older drivers navigate the roads, the agency said it is working on new laminates to make highway signs brighter from further away."

Information about the Federal Highway Administration report is available here.  The Administration's Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population is available here. The 2014 Highway Statistics Report is available here.

December 14, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

When a Caring Family Tradition Comes Full Circle...

I have often been struck by how frequently attorneys I know began working in elder law after their personal struggles to find resources to help an aging member of their own family.  A slightly different family-inspired path is behind the story of attorney Joy Solomon.  She at first resisted.

In the midst of my raging adolescence in 1979, my mother was devoting most of her time to a Jewish nursing home in Baltimore where she was the board president.

 

I would come home after school, make instant mashed potatoes, settle into the comfort of our gray velour sofa and watch “General Hospital,” enraptured. Family dinner often included stories about Mom’s afternoon with the old people. In her mind, the elderly were to be revered as the bearers of history, lives lived and lessons learned; in my self-centered, adolescent thinking, old people were fragile, needy and dying. I felt more connected to soap stars like Luke and Laura than to aged Jewish grandmothers. I told myself that I’d never end up working in a nursing home like her. No way....

To continue reading how Joy found her mission and is now a part of the team at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, the Bronx, read Coming Full Circle to Help Her Elders, from the New York Times. 

Special thanks to Karen Miller, a former administrative law judge from New York, for sharing this story.

December 14, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink

Sunday, December 13, 2015

More on Elder Abuse

I don't know whether the issue of elder abuse is just getting more coverage or whether cases of elder abuse are increasing. We all know that elder abuse is a global issue.  I ran across a few recent articles about elder abuse that I wanted to share in this post.

First, The Conversation published Why are we abusing our parents? The ugly facts of family violence and ageism . The article opens with the story of Gwen, who was being abused by her son. The article suggests that "[o]lder people experiencing abuse from family members share the same experience as women suffering intimate partner violence in having someone close to them, whom they ought to be able to trust, perniciously erode their sense of safety and wellbeing through excessive use of power and control." But, when its a child who is the perpetrator, "feelings of parental love and responsibility coupled with shame and guilt for having “failed” as a parent often stop the parent from seeking help and protecting themselves." Turning to Australia, the article examines the prevalence and frequency of multiple abuses of a victim. "For example, financial abuse was coupled with another form of abuse in 65% of cases." Linking abuse and ageism, the article offers that "[promoting the dignity and inherent value of older people is a crucial component of elder abuse prevention."  The article calls for educating professionals, elders and society about the issues.

Next, a newspaper in Bend, Oregon ran the story, Financial exploitation hits close. Report: Most financial exploitation done by someone the victim trusts. "A report by Oregon’s Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations found nearly three-fourths of Central Oregon’s financial-exploitation cases involved someone known or trusted by the victim." The cases in Oregon are similar to what is happening across the country:"[s]tate investigators recorded 1,059 cases in which people 65 or older, who lived on their own or with a loved a one, were victims of theft or someone had misused their money, medication or property...Financial exploitation for seniors living outside of a long-term care facility was the most common type of elder abuse for the third year running in 2014."

Finally (but finally only for this post; I have no doubt that there will be more posts on elder abuse, unfortunately) CNBC ran a story on elder abuse with a headline that caused me to do a double-take.  Why seniors don't fear elder financial abuse discusses a new report from Allianz Life that "queried over 1,200 seniors and more than 1,000 people ages 40 to 64 about seniors' finances and found that among the seniors, 89 percent were confident they could handle their money on their own. At the same time, 22 percent of the younger group said they were not confident in their own ability to recognize elder financial abuse, or were not sure."

The CNBC story indicates that family members worry more about the elder being a victim than the elder does. "The confidence of the seniors may make them even more vulnerable to financial scams or financial abuse by friends or family members, said Walter White, president and CEO of Allianz Life. ..."Everything we understand about the prevalence of the issue would suggest that confidence is misplaced," he said."  The CNBC story cites some other reports that provide good statistics and discusses the connection between financial exploitation and ultimately a nursing home placement.

That kind of loss can devastate a person's finances, and elder financial abuse is often a major reason why seniors wind up in nursing homes and assisted living facilities on public assistance. Dr. Mark Lachs, co-chief of the division of geriatrics and gerontology at Weill Medical College, has studied the issue and found that an older person who falls victim to abuse, including financial exploitation, is four times more likely to be placed in a nursing home, after adjusting for other known risk factors for nursing home placement.

Discussing the reasons a victim may fail to report financial exploitation, the story adds overconfidence as a reason, citing to the Allianz report. The CNBC story concludes with some links to resources to help fight elder abuse.

More information about the Allianz report is available here.  Allianz also offers a number of materials for elders and professionals available on the Allianz website, here.

 

 

December 13, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Health Care/Long Term Care, Property Management, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)