Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NCLC offers free on-site elder advocacy training

Free on-site or webinar trainings are available for elder advocates this spring.  The National Elder Rights Training Project provides training on a wide range of law and aging topics to legal services providers and elder advocates nationwide.  Priority for on-site training is offered to states involved in the Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems demonstration grants.  However other organizations may also apply.  Preference will be given to organizations that can commit to marketing and outreach for the training event to attract the targeted audience.  The training is free and the National Consumer Law Center or another partner from the National Legal Resource Center will conduct the training.  While the trainings are offered on a wide range of topics, selection of the organization is in part based on availability of trainers.  Currently expert trainers are available on a wide range of consumer law topics. 

The training application is available at http://www.nlrc.aoa.gov/NLRC/Training_Request/Index.aspx.  You may also contact Odette Williamson at owilliamson@nclc.org with questions.

April 1, 2014 in Consumer Information, Programs/CLEs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Book Talk: About Having "That" Talk with Your Kids

Washington Post writer Michelle Singletary hosts a column called The Color of Money.  Recently she wrote about the importance of talking with your adult children about your preferences and finances "long before a health crisis forces the issue" that may put them in the position of caregivers.  At the same time, she acknowledges this conversation isn't easy to start. 

For assistance she suggests the book "The Other Talk: A Guide to Talking With Your Adult Children About the Rest of You Life," by author Tim Prosch.   To further the conversation, Singletary and Prosch are hosting an on-line dicussion about "The Other Talk" on Thursday, April 24 at noon, Eastern time.  Here's the link to the Washington Post forum for the program.  

April 1, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Solving the Mystery of Lost Items in Care Facilities?

Remember the first time you went to camp and your mother put labels on all of your clothes?  At the other end of the timeline is the need to keep track of personal items, clothing and eye glasses in senior care facilities.  One of the most common complaints in residential care is "missing" things ... like your dad's favorite red sweater. 

Now there is new tool to help staff get items back in their proper place -- and the tool is useful whether the location is camp, college or a nursing home.

Check out identaMe labels -- waterproof, self-sticking, laundry-friendly and colorful.  You can order pre-printed labels on-line, complete with your loved one's name and a "catchy" logo.

March 16, 2014 in Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 7, 2014

New York: Court Refuses "Unconscionable" Foreclosure of Reverse Mortgage

In MetLife Home Loans v. Vareen, decided in Kings County, New York on February 11, the mortgage company attempted to foreclose on a reverse mortgage, apparently because of unpaid water bills for the property.   The case was "conferenced extensively with the defendant homeowner's family in the court's Foreclosure Settlement Conference Part," with no resolution of the dispute, but the homeowner did not file a formal answer in the lawsuit.  Eventually the mortgage company sought an "ex parte" default ruling. 

In denying the requested relief, the judge noted that the homeowner had a contractual obligation to stay current on all items which could become charges against the property.  However, the mortgage company also had the contractual option to "make the payment for the mortgagor and charge the mortgagor's account. If a pattern of missed payments occurs, the [mortgage company] may establish procedures to pay the property charges from the mortgagor's funds as if the mortgagor elected to have the mortgagee pay the property charges under this section."  It appears the homeowner was receiving monthly "reverse mortgage payments," rather than a single lump sum.

This history of the case is a reminder that reverse mortgages may not be the best solution for some older homeowners, especially if the cost to maintain the house is substantial, or if the elderly homeowner (or a volunteer in the family) is unable to handle payment of bills as they come due.

Here the court stepped in to prevent loss of the home, citing the lender's contract options.  The court quoted the rosy language of a HUD-approved consumer guide, appearing to assure borrowers they can "continue to live at home as long as you want," and concluded:

"As such, plaintiff cannot foreclose on defendant's reverse mortgage because of her default in paying the NYC water bill. Furthermore, serving a senior citizen holding a reverse mortgage with a complaint that fails to specify what the default is can only be described as unconscionable."

Other court challenges to attempts to foreclose on reverse mortgages where there is a "surviving" spouse, but that individual is not an owner of record, are detailed here, with the potential class of plaintiffs represented by an AARP Foundation Litigation team.  Thanks to ElderLawGuy Jeff Marshall for tweeting on AARP's efforts. 

March 7, 2014 in Consumer Information, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

NPR: Living Wills are the "Talk of the Town"

Apparently a lot of us were having "driveway" moments today, listening to NPR on the way to work and lingering in the car to hear the finish of the story.  My Penn State colleague Amy Gaudion popped into my office to tell me of the "amazing" piece she had just heard, and a few minutes later I received an email from a friend who recommended that same radio story. 

So, here's the link to the much recommended piece from NPR's Morning Edition, "Living Wills are the Talk of the Town in La Crosse, Wisconsin." 

March 5, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Choosing Wisely" -- Recommendations for Medications & Treatments in Senior Care

The American Geriatrics Society and the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation have joined in a venture called "Choosing Wisely," and recently issued "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question." 

The items are intended to stimulate more thoughtful decision making, especially in dementia care, and address diet, restraints, and use of screening tests.  Two items that hit home include:

  • Don't prescribe cholinesterase inhibitors for dementia without periodic assessment for perceived cognitive benefits and adverse gastrointestinal effects.
  • Don't prescribe any medication without conducting a drug regimen review.

This "Five Things" list was actually the second set of "Choosing Wisely" recommendations.  Here's a link to the important first list, which includes the concern about off-label prescriptions of antipsychotic medications to treat symptoms in dementia, a topic that has also been the subject of major whistleblower cases and settlements involving the pharmaceutical industry. 

March 5, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Turning Silver Into Gold?

While working in Ireland in 2010, I attended a conferencen in Dublin where the theme was "turning silver into gold." I was impressed when I arrived, as the conference was sold out and it was standing room only.  Speakers came from a wide range of academic and business fields, and the day ended with roundtable brainstorming sessions about business opportunities in serving the needs of seniors.  There was a lot of creative energy in the room.

At the same time, I recognized the possibility that the economic crisis that was in full sail at the time, deeply affecting Ireland, could be triggering both creativity and desperation.  Free enterprise often seems to walk the fine line between capitalizing on need and exploiting it.  Seniors may be particularly vulnerable as clients, if the fine line is breached. 

I was reminded of the potential for duality as I read a very interesting article in the New York Times, by Jill Caryl Weiner, "Of Crime and Punishment, Redemption and Aerobics."  Here are two paragraphs from the thoughtful exploration of a senior fitness business plan, that started small with aerobics classes in senior centers:

"Mr. Mickens dreams big. Right now, as president and C.E.O. of the Tommy Experience, a fitness company focused on older adults, he says he wants to turn his company into an international brand, as big as Bally Total Fitness and Equinox. He envisions sports merchandisers like Nike and Under Armour sponsoring his company and providing comfortable workout clothes for the 60-and-above set, 'to sponsor their grandmothers, aunts and grandfathers like they would sponsor kids or a team.'


While his stated mission is to help older people transform themselves, it is also about his own transformation — and redemption. In 1989, Mr. Mickens, then 25, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, money laundering and tax evasion. He was fined $1 million and sentenced to 35 years in federal prison."

It is good to read about redemption and senior services coming together in healthy ways, with the hope that everyone also "exercises" healthy realisim about the business model.   

March 3, 2014 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nat. Senior Citizens Law Center Calls for Stronger Rules re Assisted Living

The National Senior Citizens Law Center, with offices in California and D.C., has used its close observation of laws regulating "assisted living" across the U.S., to call for stronger rules in California, on the ground that "California lags far behind" in adopting moderns standards for quality of service and care.

NSCLC's latest report, "Best Practices in Assisted Living: Considering Potential Reforms for California, coauthored by Eric Carlson and Gwen Orlowski, is available on their website, along with the latest news on hearings before California legislative bodies on assisted living regulatory issues.

February 13, 2014 in Consumer Information, Housing, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Career Development: Fellowship Applications Due to Borchard April 15

The Borchard Foundation Center for Law and Aging reminds us that the application window is now open to apply for 2014-15 Borchard fellowship funding.  The program provides three law school graduates the opportunity to pursue their research and professional interests for a year in law and aging. 

The fellowship is $42,500 and is intended as a full-time position only. The fellowship period runs from July 1 to June 30 each year, or for the calendar year beginning the month after the fellow’s completion of a state bar examination. 

Examples of activities and projects by Borchard Fellows: 

·     Working with an established legal services program to enable vulnerable, isolated, low-income seniors to age-in-place by addressing their unmet legal needs; 

·     Providing holistic services to older clients facing consumer debt and foreclosure-related concerns; 

·     Implementation of a courthouse project to help elderly pro se tenants achieve long-term housing stabilization through the interdisciplinary use of legal representation and social services, allowing more elderly tenants to “age in place” at home; 

·     Development of a non-profit senior law resource center providing direct legal services and public education; 

·     Development of an interdisciplinary elder law clinical program at a major public university law school; 

·     Development of a mediation component for a legal services program elder law hotline; 

·     Development of an interdisciplinary project for graduate students in law, medicine, and health advocacy to foster understanding and collaboration between professions.

For more details on how to apply before April 15, 2014 deadline, see details here

February 11, 2014 in Consumer Information, Grant Deadlines/Awards, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Elder Law & the Future: What Role for "Limited License Legal Technicians?"

What are "limited license legal technicians" or LLLTs?  As defined by the Supreme Court of Washington in an order issued in June of 2012, LLLTs are individuals who achieve certification through a new state program, authorizing them to provide specific legal services within specific substantive areas of law and law-related practice. 

Why create the LLLT alternative, especially in a country and during an economy where there are, arguably, more than enough underemployed lawyers?  As the Washington Supreme Court carefully details, the current civil legal system "is unaffordable not only to low income people but, as a [2003 state study] documented, moderate income people as well...."  For low income people, the "underfunded civil legal system is inadequate" to meet their very real needs.  For many who are moderate in income, "existing market rates for legal services are cost-prohibitive."  A new means of meeting public need is warranted, says the Court. 

Why is a system of licensing LLLTs in the State of Washington potentially very significant to the practice of Elder Law?  Washington has identified four areas of unmet civil law needs: Family Law, Immigration, Landlord/Tenant, and... yes, Elder Law. 

Very interesting!  The first practice area to be certified in Washington will be "Domestic Relations," with the Limited License Legal Technician Board expecting to begin accepting applications for a licensing examination in late summer or early fall of 2014.  No indication yet on when "Elder Law" LLLTs might be certified. In the roll-out design, applicants must first satisfy threshold educational standards, including holding at least an associate level degree, plus 45 credit hours at an ABA-approved program (which, for the moment at least, means an ABA approved law school). Details on the certification process are available on the Washington State Bar Association's website, here.   The University of Washington's School of Law has announced its "inaugural program" for LLLTs in family law to begin in the winter quarter of 2014. 

While I suspect this movement might make existing Elder Law attorneys a bit nervous, my own research points to the very real need for more widely available, trustworthy legal advice.  For example, Penn State Dickinson law students, with financial support of the Borchard Foundation's Center on Law and Aging, helped me to conduct focus groups drawn from a wide range of income, race, ethnicity and gender orientation, from locations all across Pennsylvania. In English and in Spanish, in inner cities and rural senior centers, we asked about their views and experiences with accessing legal assistance with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, insurance and other legal questions of concern to older persons.  As summarized here, fear of the cost of seeing a lawyer, and the difficulty in finding free or affordable attorneys who were "trustworthy," were  concerns clearly raised in each of the focus group sessions. That study pointed to the need for elder law specialists -- but not necessarily to a need for "just" Elder Law attorneys

Big thanks go to Penn State Dickinson Professor Laurel Terry, our in-house guru on all things cutting edge in the practice of law, for sharing with me the latest materials on Washington's LLLT program.  

February 6, 2014 in Consumer Information, Ethical Issues, Legal Practice/Practice Management, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Corner Drug Store: Ending Tobacco Sales and Increasing its Visibility as a Health Care Clinic

CVS Caremark is drawing a lot of attention with the recent announcement of its decision to stop selling tobacco products in its drug store operations.  Many, including the NYT and McKnights, are highlighting this decision as a pro-health measure, and certainly that should be true.  News coverage of CVS suggests that other drug store chains are considering whether to adopt the same policy. But, the decision also highlights CVS' role in a major consumer trend; consumers are seeking what might be called retail health care at the corner drug store.  This trend is arguably a move away from, or at least a major supplement to, a more traditional setting where a primary care physician's office is the access point for health care assessments.  CVS' decision is part of its enhanced image as "health care provider."

I've been fascinated to see the popularity, especially among my parents' generation (in their 80s!), of using the "clinic" at the drug store to get complaint-specific treatment.  Ease of access is certainly a major part of the appeal.  I suspect that another factor is the decision of many trusted family physicians to retire.  Indeed, my parents have now outlived the working lives of several sets of doctors. 

At the same time, I worry about what might be missed when a customer uses the local drugstore "clinic" for a specific complaint -- and when those visits start to multiply.  The pharmacy clinic does not have the decades of records that can help to explain a patient's symptoms and progress.  Are there missed opportunities for whole person health care? And is the drug store clinic potentially "eager" to prescribe -- and sell -- drugs? 

February 6, 2014 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative Helps People with Disabilities Find Health Insurance

The American Association on Health and Disability has launched a new website that aims to help personw with disabilities secure health insurance.  Navigators and other enrollment specialists can now access better information to help people with disabilities find health care coverage in the federal and state exchanges. The tools are cross-disability programs developed by the National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative (NDNRC). The 12-month collaborative was made possible by a one-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


The navigator website was launched December 1, 2013 at www.nationaldisabilitynavigator.org. There is also an accompanying training guide, the Guide to Disability for Healthcare Insurance Marketplace Navigators. The guide describes the barriers to health insurance people with disabilities have encountered in the past, how disability laws affect the marketplace, what navigators need to know about disability, and much more. It is available at: http://www.nationaldisabilitynavigator.org/ndnrc-materials/disability-guide/.


The recently launched website also features the latest health coverage news and resources of interest to those helping consumers with disabilities find health coverage (and to consumers as well). The website also features a blog, which, among other things, gives everyone the opportunity to tell their own health coverage enrollment story. In the near future, the website will publish 17 fact sheets with more information on disability-specific issues and individual state information as well.

More info here.

February 4, 2014 in Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Upcoming Training/Conference: Fair Debt Collection Introductory Training--scholarships available

Fair Debt Collection Introductory Training

Sponsored by NCLC and NACA

Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, Texas

March 7-8, 2014 (Friday & Saturday)  


            National Consumer Law Center's Fair Debt Collection Introductory Training will get you up to speed on your first debt collection abuse cases. There you can learn about the laws protecting consumers from abusive debt collection practices and proceed to more in-depth sessions on developing these cases and a fair debt collection law practice. Faculty includes top consumer litigators from across the country. CLE credit is available in most states (up to 15 hours).

            This 2 day training is only for NACA members, long-time NACBA members with practices limited to consumer debtors, assistant attorneys general, employees of state, federal financial enforcement agencies, and legal aid lawyers. Private attorneys should join the National Association of Consumer Advocates well in advance of the training.


Scholarship Application due this Monday, January 27th.  

            Get more information including the agenda, hotel reservations, scholarship application, and online registration.


            Set in a blend of the historic and the modern, the Grand Hyatt San Antonio Hotel has a premier location adjacent to the HemisFair Park and the Riverwalk with its enticing variety of restaurants and shopping along the San Antonio River. The hotel is within walking distance of the Alamo and the Tower of the Americas. Special hotel room rate of $169 per night.


            Please pass this on to any legal aid, assistant attorney generals, NACA or NACBA members that  you think might be interested.

January 23, 2014 in Consumer Information, Programs/CLEs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Geriatric Care Management and Boomers

Recently, a Pennsylvania friend was describing her aging father's situation in one of the sunshine states.  When her father, a widower, began to show signs of diminishing capacity, the adult children discussed options, including moving Dad closer to one of them. But, he liked his retirement spot in the sunshine, had friends, and, in fact, there were more care options where he was living.

Eventually, my friend hired a local geriatric care manager in the sunshine state, with the cost shared by her and two siblings.  In our most recent conversation, my friend described that decision as perhaps the best move the family made.  She said that at first she had a hard time getting her father's facility to accept the fact that they should call the care manager first.  But having an informed person -- an experienced advocate for her father -- in the community has often been essential, as questions arose over insurance, level of care, medications, transfers between facilities, nutrition and whether to hospitalize. My friend still makes regular trips to visit her father, but the local manager meant there were fewer emergency trips.

Geriatric care managers, sometimes called care coordinators, elder care coordinators, or professional care managers, could -- and perhaps should -- be an increasingly important part of planning.  One of the questions about this emerging profession is credentials.  At least two national trade groups exist, including the National Association for Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) and the National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM).

In addition, law firms specializing in elder law frequently offer care management services, often employing non-lawyer professionals as part of the team.

Geriatric care management may be very important to "elder boomers," both as they become seniors caring for their even-more-senior-aged parents, and as future care-needing individuals themselves.  Unfortunately, a big question may be cost.  Medicare and Medicaid -- and most insurance -- does not cover the cost of care management.  As reported by the New York Times a few years ago in "Care Coordination: Too Expensive for Medicare?," attempts to secure public funding for care managers has been stymied by studies that show care management does not necessarily reduce the costs of care. 

Nonetheless, such coordination may be particularly important in a nation where family members often live far apart.  In my friend's situation, she expected the need to last for a couple of years, but in fact, her father is approaching age 98, and the "healthy" relationship between the children, their father and his care coordinator has lasted for more than 10 years. 

January 21, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Don't Waste Good Money on Oak Caskets and Brass Handles...."

Hayley is investigating DIY funerals. Who is Hayley?  Of course, she's a character on the British night-time soap opera, Coronation Street (a/k/a "Corrie"), that's been running continuously in the U.K. since 1960.  Hayley doesn't want to "waste good money on oak caskets and brass handles. "  

Here's an essay from the Irish Times, inspired both by the fictional Corrie debate, and preferences expressed by the County Down author's real-life partner, including a discussion of an Irish tradition, the wake. 

I especially like the line from the essay, "She was waked in her own home."   

Thank you, Una Lynch, for sending the link from across the Atlantic!

January 16, 2014 in Consumer Information, Ethical Issues, Other | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Do Try This At Home: How Sharp Is Your Brain?

NBC News had an interesting piece on a self-test for mental acuity, reportedly developed by Ohio State University in response to the growing number of Elder Boomers who apparently are concerned about distinguishing between "ordinary" forgetfulness or changes in brain function.  (Really?  Is that what aging boomers are worrying about?)

In any event, NBC's medical expert, Nancy Snyderman, reminds us that OSU's "Sage Test" (good name, consumer friendly!) is just one tool to assist in early identification of potential problems -- and is not an ultimate diagnosis. 

Alternative links are available to access the test, either on the NBC Nightly News website  or at OSU: http://sagetest.osu.edu/

January 14, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Recent Moves to Protect Seniors from Fraud in Sale of Investment Products

A few years ago, one of the more perplexing cases handled by Penn State's Elder Protection Clinic involved the sale of deferred annuities (specifically, an annuity that would not fully mature for 20 years) to a senior, a widow in her early 80s. 

The individual was a ripe target for a manipulative sales pitch, having recently been diagnosed with early stages of dementia, even though at the moment of sale she was still living independently in her home.  She was able to talk and communicate; arguably she did not seem impaired.  She was told the product would save on taxes -- a pitch alluring to the frugal woman -- except for the fact that she really didn't need to save on taxes.  

If one lives long enough or has looming care needs even at an earlier age, an individual's post-death estate planning goals can conflict with pre-death care needs. In the clinic client's case, the woman's  annual income was modest, and her total estate was not large enough to trigger other major taxes.  The assets used to fund the annuity were virtually her entire savings.  Several months later, her daughter learned of the purchase, while exploring care options for her mother. Her mother was facing ineligibility for Medicaid, as the purchase of the deferred annuity would be treated as transfer, while the alternative was a large penalty if she cashed in the annuity "early." 

How often does this -- or worse -- happen? 

In "Still No Free Lunch: Recent Regulatory Initiatives to Protect Seniors From Fraud in the Sale of Investment Products," 41 Securities Regulation Law Journal 397 (Winter 2013) (paywall protected; available on Westlaw as 41 No 4 SECRLJ Art 2), attorneys  Ivan B. Knauer and Michele C. Zarychta address recent efforts to prevent or address fraudulent practices by an array of regulatory bodies. The 2013 piece updates their 2008 article (available at 36 No 4 SECRLJ Art 3). They outline several types of fraud and various financial products often marketed specifically to elders.  For example, they observe:

"One of the most pressing concerns of the regulatory entities is the improper -- or at least confusing-- use of 'senior' designations by professionals, implying that a professional has expertise or training in senior-specific issues.  FINRA [the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority] 'Rule of Conduct 2210 prohibits brokerage firms and brokers registered with FINRA from referencing nonexistent or self-conferred degrees or designations or referencing legitimate degrees or designations in a misleading manner.'  Misleading use of such designations may also violate federal securities laws or state laws."

The authors, who are experienced in representation of investment and financial service companies, recognize that business lawyers can help clients recognize the need to "take measures to ensure that their own policies and procedures protect seniors."  "Still No Free Lunch" is a reminder that attorneys who are advisers to companies can and should be a larger part of the solution, rather than be viewed as part of the problem. 

In reading the article, which emphasizes  regulators' programs to "educate" the public, I am struck by the likelihood that a key tipping point occurs when a senior's susceptibility to a manipulative pitch is outweighed by his or her weakened ability to recognize risk, regardless of any fraud-prevention education. That was true, for example, with our clinic's client.  Her life-time frugal nature was still intact; however, her judgment about whether she needed to "save" money on taxes was diminished. More education was not the solution for her, as she had probably lost the ability to appreciate its application.  Indeed, a common marketing practice to seniors -- free lunches or dinners disguised as "educational seminars" -- trades upon that very fact, thus giving rise to the "no free lunch" theme in both articles by authors Knauer and Zarychta.

The authors detail stepped up enforcement efforts, including recent measures by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established in 2010. 

Hat tip to Penn State Dickinson Law Professor Lance Cole, who shared this interesting article.

January 13, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Property Management, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CFPB hosts webcast on the mortage rules

From Naomi Karp:
On Jan. 10, 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new mortgage rules will take effect. That day, we’ll also host “Protecting homeowners: New tools for empowering consumers and advocates,” in Phoenix. This event will be a training for housing counselors, legal aid attorneys, and other advocates on the new mortgage servicing rule. You can watch the event live at 11 a.m. MST (1 p.m. EST) at consumerfinance.gov.
The event will feature remarks from CFPB Director Richard Cordray, followed by an in-depth training presentation by Cathy Mansfield.
If you need an accommodation to participate, here’s how you can make a request.

January 7, 2014 in Consumer Information, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Housing, Webinars | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 6, 2014

AALS Program Report: The Financial Challenges of Aging

Skating in NYC Photo (c) 2014 Katherine C. PearsonCatching up after a busy weekend at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Annual Meeting 2014 in New York City, I'm happy to report the presentations at the Section on Aging and the Law seemed to go smoothly and were well received, with a very engaged audience.  While the weather made travel to and from NYC a bit tricky, it also seemed to "encourage" strong attendance at sessions.  (I found myself skating even when not visiting the rink at Rockefeller Plaza!)

Section Chair Susan Cancelosi (Wayne State) was snowed out -- but I suspect Susan would be pleased by the reaction to the program she planned.  Thank you, Susan, for putting together the theme, securing speakers, making sure we were all on track, and creating a back-up weather plan.  We've decided you should be the moderator next year, if you don't mind!

Dick Kaplan (Illinois) led off the panelists, using his best "Dr. Phil" style to walk us through (both literally and metaphorically) the latest changes to Medicare triggered by the Affordable Care Act and other recent legislation.  Recognizing that many in our audience do not teach elder law or health care law, Dick offered information useful to all academics who "expect" to retire.  For example, recent information from the Employee Benefit Research Institute supported his forecast that a 65-year old person retiring in 2012 would need substantial saving just to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, in the range of  $122,000 -$172,000 for men and between $139,000 - $195,000 for women (with projections also affected by prescription drug usage).  Dick reminded us that this figure does NOT include any costs for long-term care.  

Next on the panel was Laura Hermer (Hamline), who is new to our Section -- and a very welcome addition.  Using her health law background, Laura outlined the maze of programs, including state plan innovations and waiver programs under Medicaid, that may provide "long-term services and supports" (or LTSS -- the latest acronym that seems to be an intentional step away from a "care" model) for older persons.  Her presentation emphasized the shift to home or community based care, but Laura made clear that this shift depends heavily on unpaid care by family members. 

Incoming Section Chair Mark Bauer (Stetson) made effective use of visual images of 55+ communities in Florida to demonstrate his concern that exemptions from civil rights protections that permit age-restricted communities may not be matched by actual benefits for the older adults targeted as residents.  Mark stressed the percentage of housing that is not designed to match predictable needs for an aging population.  Examples included multi-story designs without elevators, steps into even ground-level units, and bathrooms without wheel-chair accessibility.  Mark's presentation expanded on his recent article in the University of Illinois' Elder Law Journal.

Speaking last, my topic was the latest state law developments tied to federal laws that authorize nursing homes to compel a "responsible party" to sign a prospective resident's nursing home contract.  States are creating potential personal liability for costs of care for family members, agents or guardians, or transferors or transferees of resources, if the resident is deemed ineligible for Medicaid.  Here are links to a copy of the slides I used for my  presentation on "Revisiting Nursing Home Contracts," as well as to a related short article I was invited to write for the Illinois State Bar Association's Trusts & Estates Section in December 2013.

The panel presentations were followed by great questions and observations from the audience, further highlighting the financial challenges of aging.  Plus, it was wonderful to see several new members volunteering to join the planning committee for future programs for the Aging and Law Section of AALS.  And welcome back to the board to Alison Barnes (Marquette Law).

January 6, 2014 in Consumer Information, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare, Programs/CLEs, Retirement, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

On-Line Video Source With Interesting Topics Relevant to Senior Care

A recent, interesting "over the transom" email came from a continuing care provider group based in southern Texas.  Morningside Ministries was the sender, listing its "top 5" free videos, available on its mmLearn.org website.  All five had interesting descriptions -- some addressing provocative and underdiscussed topics -- and when I took a look, I found them professionally presented, often with a welcome dash of humor to lighten the mood.  I could see using one or more to initiate class discussions, additional research or conversations.

Here's the list and the links, although in the interest of space, I've shortened the descriptions:

Caring for the Hateful Patient, Presenter:  Dr. Thomas Weiss, M.D.
Caring for a sometimes hateful or difficult patient can be difficult, and it can take a toll on the caregiver. .. Dr. Weiss will help you understand some of the reasons for this behavior as well as give you tips for dealing with the difficult situation.
Hoarding and Elders, Presenter:  Dr. Weiss, a geriatric psychiatrist, will provide an overview of hoarding and treatment.
Sexuality and Aging, Presenter: Timothy C. Hlavinka, MD – Urology - San Antonio, Texas Sexuality is important at any age.
Depression in Elders, Presenter:  Jason Schillerstrom MD, UTHSCSA School of Medicine, Psychiatry. A great discussion by one of our popular presenters on how depression is diagnosed, screening questions for depression and causes, outcomes and treatments.
SLUMS Examination & The Geriatric Depression Scale, Presenter:  Dr. David Smith M.D., FAAFP, CMD, Geriatric Consultants of Central TX. The Saint Louis University Mental Status (SLUMS) examination and the Geriatric Depression Scale is a screening tool for dementia developed by Saint Louis University geriatricians which identifies mild cognitive problems in the elderly.

January 2, 2014 in Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)