Sunday, December 10, 2017
I was reading the article, Things I’ll Do Differently When I’m Old, in the New York Times. The author writes about a do and not do list. What is this type of list? "It was a highly judgmental, and super secret, accounting of all the things I thought my parents were doing wrong. . . It was all too easy to call them out, and I recognized over and over just how awful it is to become feeble, sick and increasingly absent-minded, or worse."
Why such a list? According to the author, it arose out of watching the impact of their poor decisions on his parents. For example, his mother continued driving past the time of her capability or his father's refusal to use an assistive mobility device. Learning from our elders' "mistakes" is nothing new, but making a list that applies specifically to one's older age is an interesting concept. Wonder what is on the author's list? Items include driving ability, accepting help to maintain independence, maintaining physical appearance, not lash out at others and treat them with respect and kindness.
The author notes that his grandmother had a similarly intended list that he found going through his dad's papers. He concludes "I certainly hope to learn from her errors, and my parents’, and avoid making too many of my own. Mostly I hope to be able to judge when to stop adding to the list, and start following its advice."
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Regular readers of this blog know that I will periodically post about identity theft, hacking, etc. even though not specifically elder law issues. With the end of the year looming, I thought it timely to write about a new report from the GAO, Identity Theft: Improved Collaboration Could Increase Success of IRS Initiatives to Prevent Refund Fraud.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched an Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) pilot for the 2017 filing season. It aims to allow IRS, states, and tax preparation industry partners to quickly share information on identity theft (IDT) refund fraud. The ISAC pilot includes two components: an online platform run by IRS to communicate data on suspected fraud, and an ISAC Partnership, a collaborative organization comprised of IRS, states, and industry, which is intended to be the governance structure. As of November 2017, the ISAC had 48 members: 31 states (including full members and those receiving alerts only), 14 tax preparation companies, and 3 financial institutions. In addition, IRS is using a Rapid Response Team (RRT) in partnership with states and industry members to coordinate responses to IDT refund fraud incidents that pose a significant threat within 24 to 72 hours of being discovered. IRS deployed the RRT for six incidents in 2016 and once in 2017.GAO found that the ISAC pilot aligns with key aspects of all five leading practices for effective pilot design GAO previously identified, but none fully. For example, IRS has worked to incorporate stakeholder input, but its message about the ISAC's benefits has not fully reached states. Further, IRS does not have criteria for assessing whether the pilot's objectives have been met. Without this assessment and better alignment with leading practices, IRS, its partners, and Congress will have difficulty determining the effectiveness of the pilot and whether to implement it more broadly.
Given the number of folks whose personal identifying information was stolen in the Equifax hack, let's hope that the IRS efforts are effective. Stay tuned.
Monday, November 20, 2017
The Wall Street Journal published an article by Maddy Dychtwald, The Surprising Benefits and Costs of Family Caregiving. A significant number of folks are already serving as caregivers (40 million per the article) and "[a]s the massive baby-boomer generation hits their 70s, the demand for family caregiving will skyrocket—and it’s poised to become America’s biggest off-the-books industry." The author explains about a survey her company did with Merrill Lynch, "The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity." The author notes one unexpected positive found in the study is the caregivers finding the act of caregiving benefitting them, perhaps as much as those receiving the care.
The majority of respondents (65%) also said that caregiving has brought meaning and purpose to their life. Most (77%) went so far as to say they would gladly take on the role of caregiver for another loved one. More than half (61%) told us the biggest benefit of being a caregiver is feeling that they’re doing the right thing. And often, caregivers begin to take better care of their own health as a result of their caregiving experience (86%).
The article discusses the obstacles encountered in caregiving, including the role reversals that can make the relationship difficult. "Nearly half (45%) of all caregivers say they are struggling with this, while trying to meet what they tell us are their top three goals: preserving the dignity of their loved one, providing the best care possible, and keeping their loved one out of an institution. Many caregivers also believe part of their role is to make sure the recipient does not feel like a burden, even when they might be."
The article stresses the importance of a family conversation--and early. The talk needs to include financial caregiving, which may end up being a big part of the need.
As it turns out, financial caregiving is a critical part of the picture—but one that’s not often discussed. Financial caregivers in our study are contributing to the cost of care, coordinating and managing finances for their loved one, or both. More than half (52%) of respondents have no idea what they have spent on caregiving-related expenses. In fact, many contribute financially to the care of their loved one even when it’s detrimental to their own financial future.
The cost of caregiving is not easy or comfortable to talk about, but finances are an integral piece of the puzzle. Seventy-five percent of family caregivers have never discussed their financial role with their care recipient. It could be that talking about money is taboo, especially in the face of grave illness, or that the care recipient does not have the mental acuity to discuss finances. But the financial burden and emotional toll can be minimized if families talk it through and plan appropriately.
It’s important to get our heads around the costs and benefits of caregiving now, because it’s likely to be in each of our futures. As founder of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said: “There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers; those who currently are caregivers; those who will be caregivers; and those who will need caregivers.”
Monday, November 13, 2017
Here's the info from my dear friend, Sue Field, co-editor.
Elder Law Review The Elder Law Review is an independent refereed e-journal produced by Elder Law at Western Sydney University. It is the only Australian Journal concerned with Elder Law. The Review publishes articles about legal issues relating to seniors in all areas of law, including wills, powers of attorney, substitute decision-making, guardianship, discrimination, accommodation, contracts, financial management, retirement income, taxation and property. The Review is multi-disciplinary, bringing together professionals working, researching and writing in the aged care area. It is designed to be of interest to academics, practitioners and those involved in the provision of aged care.
The Elder Law Review can be accessed at
Call for submissions for Volume 11 (due for publication early 2018).
Notes to contributors The theme of the forthcoming issue will be “Legal and Financial Issues surrounding Retirement Villages” Original, unpublished contributions are invited for any of the following sections of the Review:
- the Refereed section containing scholarly articles about the legal/social/economic/policy issues associated with “International Perspectives on Elder Law”. While we will consider articles of any length, we prefer them to be between 3000 and 8000 words.
- the Comments section, which consists of contributions from government, lawyers and aged care representatives, commenting on issues which the contributor perceives to be of contemporary significance within elder law.
- News and Current Issues – including legislative changes and case notes.
- Elder Law in Practice which profiles legal practices, community projects, social justice initiatives and pro-bono schemes from all over the world that specifically target the legal needs of older people.
Papers must conform to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation which can be accessed at
In particular, contributors should note the conventions regarding footnotes and bibliographies. Submissions must be received by January 15th, 2018 and should be addressed to Sue Field S.Field@westernsydney.edu.au
For further information please contact Sue Field co-editor S.Field@westernsydney.edu.au Contributors are reminded that papers should be written in clear language accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike and that submission of articles is no guarantee of publication, as the Elder Law Review is a peer reviewed journal and ERA ranked.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
I grew up watching the Smothers Brothers and vividly recall their sibling rivalry...."mom always liked you best." For elder law attorneys, the idea of the parent having a favorite child can be an important bit of information in the representation of the client. I've written about family matters beyond this blog. I was interested in the recent article in Huffington Post covering family favoritism. Parents Really Do Have Favorite Child, No Matter What They Say. Finally, ANSWERS. opens with an amusing observation that if your parents have told you all along they don't have favorites, they weren't being truthful to you. "[S]cience tells a different story. In research that will vindicate self-pitying siblings everywhere, sociologist Katherine Conger’s recently resurfaced longitudinal study found what many have suspected all along: Parents totally have a favorite child." The article discusses the study's hypothesis regarding birth order and who would feel favored. "The research also found that no matter a child’s birth order, every single one was suspicious of their parents liking another better. “Everyone feels their brother or sister is getting a better deal,” Conger said... So what do we make of all of this? For one, siblings have it tough. Always competing for their parents’ love, never knowing who’s ahead. But the good news for brothers and sisters is that the relationship serves tons of benefits: Having a sibling may make you more intelligent, more likely to have a stable marriage as an adult and can serve as a built-in support system. " The study referenced in the article is available for purchase.
Monday, November 6, 2017
PBS NewsHour has been running a series of interviews, Brief but Spectacular, where the subject opines on the question: what vital things make life spectacular. They recently aired their 100th episode, which featured a person who is 92 years old and who has begun to have memory problems. You can read the transcript here or listen to the audio of the interview here. Another interviewee, a 91 year old author, opines on aging with grace. That transcript can be accessed here. You can access the full series here.
Pew Research Center issued a new FactTank report, The share of Americans living without a partner has increased, especially among young adults. The article starts off with these statistics "[i]n the past 10 years, the share of U.S. adults living without a spouse or partner has climbed to 42%, up from 39% in 2007, when the Census Bureau began collecting detailed data on cohabitation." So you are wondering, what does this report have to do with elder law? Well, here you go. "The rise in adults living without a spouse or partner has also occurred against the backdrop of a third important demographic shift: the aging of American adults. Older adults (55 and older) are more likely to have a spouse or partner than younger adults. So it is surprising that the share of adults who are unpartnered has risen even though relatively more Americans are older." The article explains the financial implications of being "unpartnered", not unsurprising to those of us in the field of elder law. This can be an important implication in terms of retirement security as well. The infographic breaking down the data by age is available here.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
You aren't the only one. A number of times elders are targets. The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on October 4, 2017, "Still Ringing Off The Hook: An Update on Efforts to Combat Robocalls” The testimony came from two committee members and 4 witnesses, including Lois Greisman, the Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection of the FTC and PA AG Josh Shapiro. You can watch the video of the hearing or download individual testimony as pdfs by clicking here.
Monday, October 30, 2017
You know I've blogged several times about the recent hurricanes (and I have more yet to come). This one is about the fires from the West. Although sheltering in place may be an option in a hurricane, you certainly can't shelter in place when your shelter is in the direct path of the fire. Kaiser Health News recently ran an article highlighting the dilemmas and dangers in such cases. Fires Prey On Frail Residents Living On Their Own focuses on two stories of individuals who didn't get out in time. In one, the caregiver of a couple, both elderly and frail, was unable to get them out in time. In another, the younger person with special needs was found in her home after the fire passed. The story highlights the need and obstacles in responding to fast-moving disasters like wildfires. Many families have turned to social media in an effort to locate relatives in the path of fires.
One expert who heads up a California Council on Aging suggested that residents keep their landlines, that service providers keep hard copies of client addresses and families exchange the contact info with neighbors of the elders. Some areas are training individuals with developmental disabilities on how to respond to an emergency. Everyone needs to be prepared for disasters. Some more vulnerable populations might need to be better prepared then most.
Let's hope we get a break from all of these natural disasters soon. Stay safe.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Have you thought about all the stuff you have accumulated that you will leave behind at your death? You may make specific devises or maybe you will just leave your estate in bulk to beneficiaries to divide up between themselves. Your collection of flamingo salt and pepper shakers may be precious to you but not to your beneficiaries. The Washington Post wrote about this situation in a story titled Americans are pack rats. Swedes have the solution: ‘Death cleaning.’ The article starts off, "[i]f your family doesn’t want your stuff when you’re alive, they sure won’t want it when you’re dead....That’s the blunt assessment of yet another self-help author from abroad who is trying to get Americans, who have an addiction to collecting and storage units, to clean up their acts." The book will be available in the US starting in January of 2018.
The advantage of winnowing down your stuff while alive is it takes a lot of burden off your heirs.
The concept of decluttering before you die, a process called “dostadning,” is part of Swedish culture. (It comes from the Swedish words for death and cleaning.) Karin Olofsdotter, 51, the Swedish ambassador to the United States, says .... “It’s almost like a biological thing to do.” Olofsdotter says part of Swedish culture is living independently and never being a burden to anyone. How you keep your home is a statement of that.
Although this cleaning out can occur at any age, the author suggests 65. She also offers some suggestions such as:
Don’t start with your photos, as you’ll get bogged down in your memories and never accomplish anything. Make sure you keep a book of passwords for your heirs. Give away nice things you don’t want as gifts, such as china or table linens or books, as opposed to buying new items. Keep a separate box of things that matter only to you, and label it to be tossed upon your death. It’s okay to keep a beloved stuffed animal or two.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
The Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) has opened their call for proposals for their 2018 annual conference. If you teach T&E, Elder Law or related courses and are interested, here is some info about proposals for those tracks written by one of the organizers, Deborah Gordon:
We are hoping to encourage more trusts and estates programming at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools conference, which will be held from August 6-12 in Ft. Lauderdale. We will be proposing two discussion groups, described below, one which focuses on pedagogy and one on scholarship; please let us know if you would like to participate.
In addition, please feel free to propose a panel or discussion group yourself; here is the submission information, http://www.sealslawschools.org/submissions/.
PROPOSED DISCUSSION GROUPS Both pedagogy and scholarship within trusts and estates are moving beyond traditional core topics. We are proposing two plenary discussion groups that explore how pedagogy and scholarship are expanding the ways of teaching and studying trusts and estates and related doctrines. One group will address innovations in teaching, including both skills and doctrine, and teaching about topics that overlap with other areas of the law, such as Elder Law, Family Law, Property, and Professional Responsibility; the second group will explore new scholarship.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
AARP has a new book added to its library on livable communities. Where We Live: Communities for All Ages (2017) by Nancy LeaMond is the second book in their series. This new book is ideas from community leaders, with the earlier book (2016) containing ideas from mayors of cities. Both books are free-bound copies by request from AARP and electronic copies available from many online booksellers or AARP via an email request to WhereWeLive@AARP.org . Topics in the 2017 book include housing; arts, entertainment, fun; community engagement; public spaces (indoors and outdoors); health & wellness; work and volunteering and transportation and infrastructure like roads and sidewalks. To learn more or order your copies, click here.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
The next meeting of the Aging, Law & Society Collaborative Research Network is set for June 7-10, 2018 in Toronto as part of the Law & Society Annual meeting. Here's the info from the announcement:
The Aging, Law, and Society Collaborative Research Network (CRN) invites scholars to participate in a multi-event workshop sponsored by the CRN as part of the Law and Society Association’s 2018 Annual Meeting. The Aging, Law & Society CRN brings together scholars from across disciplines to share research and ideas about the relationship between law and aging, including how the law responds the needs of persons as they age and how law shapes the aging experience. This year’s workshop will feature themed panels, roundtable discussions, and rapid fire presentations in which participants can share new ideas and research projects.
The CRN encourages paper proposals on a broad range of issues related to law and aging. However, we especially encourage proposals on the following topics:
• Creative, inter-disciplinary and empirical methodologies for studying law and aging;
• Intergenerational relationships, ageism, and intergenerational justice;
• Theoretical frameworks for understanding the law as it relates to older adults;
• Legal responses to dementia;
• Long-term care;
• Elder abuse and neglect;
• Human rights of older adults; and
• Identity and intersectionality in older age.
In addition to paper proposals, we also welcome:
• Volunteers to serve as panel discussants and as commentators on works-in-progress.
• Ideas and proposals for themed panels, round-tables, or a session around a new book.
Proposals are due October 16 (get busy writing). The form for submission is available here http://www.lawandsociety.org/Toronto2018/2018-guidelines.html). and should be sent by email to Professor Nina Kohn email@example.com & Dr. Issi Doron, firstname.lastname@example.org along with a 1000 word abstract and your contact info.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
The New York Times recently ran an interesting article discussing women's concerns about their appearances as they age. Working to Disarm Women’s Anti-Aging Demon opens with an essay of sorts about women dying their hair to cover the gray. What's the scope of the situation? According to the author, "[a]ging is harder for women. We bear the brunt of the equation of beauty with youth and youth with power — the double-whammy of ageism and sexism. How do we cope? We splurge on anti-aging products. We fudge or lie about our age. We diet, we exercise, we get plumped and lifted and tucked." The author goes on to offer that "[t]hese behaviors are rooted in shame over something that shouldn’t be shameful. And they give a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes them necessary." The author posits the downsides of focusing on appearance and appearance of age not only disempowers women, it "reinforce[s] ageism, sexism, lookism and patriarchy."
So what is the solution? The author gives these tips "[t]ap into what we know: Getting older enriches us... [l]earn to look more generously at one another and ourselves.... [r]eject old-versus-young ways of thinking ... and [c]ome together at all ages and talk about this stuff." The author suggests it's time to get "off the hamster wheel of age denial, share power, and think and act in pro-aging ways." The author concludes her article with this
We have a choice: we can keep digging the hole deeper, or we can throw away the damn shovel. We can move, if we have the will and the desire and the vision, from competing to collaborating. We can turn it from a conversation about scarcity and loss to one about empowerment and equity. And we can take that change out into the world. The women’s movement taught us to claim our power; a pro-aging movement will teach us to hold onto it.
Thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn for sending us this article.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Recently Experience, the magazine for the American Bar Association's Senior Lawyers Division, ran a cover story on opiod use and elders. The Hidden Epidemic: Opioid Addiction Among Older Adults (subscription required) opens with sobering statistics
Currently the leading cause of injury-related deaths among adults, the opioid crisis has engulfed rural America, spread across our cities, and inundated suburban communities. Despite national alarm, the tidal wave of drug-related deaths continues.
Recent estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that roughly 52,000 drug-related overdoses occurred in 2015, and more than 60 percent of these were related to prescription opioids or illicit opioid drugs. More telling perhaps is the impact of this carnage on life expectancy, with the United States experiencing its first decline in life expectancy since 1993—the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Let's get more specific, looking at the data regarding elders:
Opioid-related patient visits among adults 65 and older more than doubled between 2006 and 2014, from 28.6 to 70.1 per 100,000, according to data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, which contain nearly one-fifth of all emergency department visits in the country. There’s been a 145 percent increase over the past 12 years.
In 2014, nearly 8 percent of all emergency department visits related to opioid dependence were made by adults aged 65 years and older, representing 36,776 patient visits nationwide, with nearly 70 percent of these visits resulting in hospital admission.
The article discusses risk factors and demographic breakdowns as well as challenges to identifying addiction. Even ageist attitudes may be at play here. The article also explains how the opioid crisis case me to be amongst elders. The explanations are interesting and illustrate how challenging it is to tackle this problem.
Epidemiologists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism last month reported a jarring trend: Problem drinking is rising fast among older Americans....
Their study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, compared data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, each time with about 40,000 adults. Drinking had increased in every age group, the researchers found.
Those over 65 remained far less likely to drink than younger people — about 55 percent of older participants told interviewers they’d imbibed in the past year. Still, that was a 22 percent increase over the two periods, the greatest rise in any age group.
It's not just the numbers that matter, the article explains. The type of drinking also matters. "[T]he proportion of older adults engaged in “high-risk drinking” jumped 65 percent, to 3.8 percent. The researchers’ definition: for a man, downing five or more standard drinks in a day (each containing 14 grams of alcohol) at least weekly during the past year; for a woman, four such drinks in a day." Why is this happening? Some suggested today's elders are healthier so they keep up their drinking ways and they are more comfortable both with drinking and recreational drug use. One thing those folks may not realize--as we age we metabolize alcohol: "With each drink, an older person’s blood alcohol levels will rise higher than a younger drinker’s ... [and] older people have less muscle mass, and the liver metabolizes alcohol more slowly. Aging brains grow more sensitive to its sedative properties, too." And don't forget medication and alcohol interactions. The article stresses the importance of diagnosis and treatment.
We are looking at a public health crisis on these issues. How do we best respond?
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
This is not an elder law specific topic so if that doesn't interest you, stop reading now (we have plenty of elder law specific posts in the archives). It seems like every week (if not more often) we read about a data breach. The one gathering all the headlines right now is the Equifax breach, which I'm sure you all have heard about (unless you are one of the ones without power Post-Irma). Having been a victim of ID theft and the Equifax breach, I'm a little wound up about these issues so forgive me if I get a little too "enthused" discussing this. Within 11 minutes today I got two agency emails warning me about ID theft. Social Security sent out a note about Protecting Your Social Security. Here are some suggestions from SSA:
- Open your personal my Social Security account....
- If you already have a my Social Security account, but haven’t signed in lately, take a moment to login to easily take advantage of our second method to identify you each time you log in. This is in addition to our first layer of security, a username and password....
- If you know your Social Security information has been compromised, and if you don’t want to do business with Social Security online, you can use our Block Electronic Access You can block any automated telephone and electronic access to your Social Security record...
The second email I got was a consumer alert from NAIC. Identity Theft: Protect Yourself in wake of breaches, hacks and cyber stalkers explains
Big data is big business. But it can also lead to bigger headaches when large-scale breaches expose personal information. Large companies including insurers and credit bureaus have been the victims of cyber thieves who accessed private customer information. Most recently, the Equifax breach of could affect 143 million Americans.
Identity theft occurs when a person uses your personal information to commit fraud or unlawful activity. Using your social security number or date of birth, someone may open new credit card or bank account in your name, and even take out a loan using your personal information. Affected consumers can help protect themselves with identity theft insurance—or by using safeguards provided by the impacted company. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers these consumer protection tips.
The tips include what not to carry in your wallet, what to do if your identity has been stolen, not to proactively protect yourself against identity theft and the pros and cons of purchasing identity theft insurance.
I'm just saying now... this isn't going to be the last time I write you about this. Hopefully none of you will be in my boat. Safe travels through cyber space.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Do you consider yourself to be old? Well, if you are over 37, statistically you are old, according to an article in the New York Times, Feeling Older? Here’s How to Embrace It. However, "S[s]udies show that people start feeling old in their 60s, and a Pew Research Center survey found that nearly 3,000 respondents said 68 was the average age at which old age begins." The article offers tips to embrace your aging, including having perspective about aging, be friends with various generations (helps with loneliness), and make decisions about "good" aging (for example, "[c]hoices about lifestyles and behaviors can influence the effects of so-called secondary aging.") Aging is organic, but don't just let it happen-plan for it and make appropriate decisions! The article also offers these tip:s welcome the positives (identify activities that are enriching for you) and reject ageist notions. Age is a great equalizer-everyone ages, even without realization. For example, say it took you two minutes to read this post. You are now two minutes older.
Various milestones — birthdays, changes in careers and the deaths of siblings and peers — are reminders of the passage of time, but you should not lose focus on finding meaning and quality in life, Mr. Kaplan ["assistant professor of social work at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y."] wrote.
“For many people, old age creeps up slowly and sometimes without fanfare or acknowledgment,” he wrote. “While most people enjoy relative continuity over the decades, being able to adapt to the changing context of our lives is the key to success throughout life.”
Monday, September 18, 2017
Consumer Reports published an article that focuses on the terms of an ALF admissions contract. Putting the Assisted Living Facility Contract Under a Microscope starts with recommending that an elder law attorney review the contract before the client signs it. The article lists 4 key areas to examine, including responsible party provisions, costs of care, mandatory arbitration clauses and grounds for discharge. The article offers advice and things to look for within each of these areas. Among others, the article quotes Hy Darling, current president of NAELA and Shirley Whitenack, former NAELA president.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
With Irma in Florida's rear view mirror (and not a moment too soon), many are focused on what, if anything, should be done differently next time.
For us as attorneys, we should be sure to tell our clients about the importance of having a disaster plan. For clients living elsewhere, whether a long-term care facility or housing specifically for elders, they should be advised to ask a lot of questions. Does the facility have a disaster plan? Get a copy of it. What services does the facility provide to help residents evacuate? In what evacuation zone is the facility located? Does the facility have a back-up generator in the event of a power outage? How does the facility balance having adequate staff on site before, during and after the disaster while simultaneously allowing staff to prepare for the disaster? Does the facility's insurance policy cover property of residents? What services does the facility provide to help residents return after the disaster? What happens if the facility is now uninhabitable? Does the admissions contract provide for any return of the resident's money (this may be more applicable to a CCRC than a SNF or apartment). Will the facility help residents find other suitable housing? What other items would you add to the list?
As part of the news coverage surrounding Irma, the Washington Post ran a story about the risks of evacuating elders. Moving Florida’s many seniors out of Irma’s path has unique risks discusses the research that has been done on the stress of evacuations on elders, noting that some evacuees will die from the stress of evacuation. Whether to go or stay is akin to rolling the dice. On the one hand, those in the path have plenty of advance notice of the approaching storm, but as seen with Irma, the track can (and does) change, so no one knows where it will hit.
If you stay you have risks. If you go, you have risks. As one person quoted in the Washington Post article noted, "[t]his is one of those classic cases of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s a very difficult decision: When you evacuate, there is an inherent body count for frail, older adults...” Because these folks are frail, they need to be evacuated earlier than others might, and based on lessons learned from Andrew and Katrina, there may be more pressure from officials for facilities to evacuate their residents rather than to stay put to weather the storm. Speaking from personal experience, the wait is stressful. It seems to take a long time for the storm to pass over once the go-no go time has passed. Then afterwards, there's the issue of utilities, clean up, services and supplies.
The media aren't the only ones focused on the issues of elders in the path of disasters. The Senate Committee on Aging has scheduled a hearing for September 20, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. on "Disaster Preparedness and Response: The Special Needs of Older Americans"
Monday, September 11, 2017
Sitting at home watching the storm tracker, and being right in the path of Irma, I wondered what efforts are being taken to protect Florida's elders, so we don't see a picture similar to that we saw from Harvey. I'm not the only one wondering about this. The New York Times ran an article the day before Irma made landfall on the continental US. Long a Refuge for the Elderly, Florida is Now a Place of Danger describes the demographics, 20% of South Florida's residents are over 65 and in some counties, a significant number are over 75. The numbers, as well as the variations in health, makes evacuation and care for this part of Florida's population especially challenging when a hurricane arrives. Add to that the fact that many elders who retire to Florida don't have support of friends or family in Florida. Not every elder will evacuate and don't forget that the caregivers need to take care of their own homes and families at some point. As well, first responders notice everyone that once winds reach a certain speed, they will not respond to calls for help. Then once the storm passes, getting services and utilities restored becomes another challenge. For some, delays in having power can be life-threatening. Stay tuned and wish all of us down here well.