Tuesday, December 29, 2015
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)
Monday, December 28, 2015
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?
Thursday, December 24, 2015
My father grew up on a mining stake in the middle of an Arizona desert, called the Silver Bell, even though his father, a bit of a dreamer, was scratching for gold. It was a tough life. My father and his brother, the only children for miles, received their education from a series of young, live-in teachers, who would be dropped off to spend a few months on the stake, before each fled, never to return. My dad often commented that there were entire subjects he never heard of as a boy, because the young teachers simply did not have sufficient experience to teach them. On the other hand, he was introduced to poetry early in life.
While today, at age 90, my dad might forget my name, with a little prompting he still smiles as he recites stanzas from Charge of the Light Brigade" or "In Flanders Fields." He introduced me to poems early on as well, and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (or "A Visit from St. Nicholas") was one of the first I learned.
I was digging around for my childhood copy of the poem this year, and I came across a bit of a mystery. It seems it isn't completely resolved who wrote the poem, first published as the work of an "anonymous" author by a New York newspaper on December 23, 1823. My dog-eared copy of an illustrated version shows Clement Moore as the author. But in 2000, researchers questioned this attribution, pointing to Major Henry Livingston, Jr., as the more likely author. That in turn sparked counter-evidence.
Either way, both my father and I, despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in arid lands, have special affection for the poem's line, "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave a lustre of midday to objects below." Wishing you that peaceful scene as well....
Monday, December 21, 2015
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!
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
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.
Monday, December 14, 2015
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.
Monday, November 30, 2015
Ever received a robocall? Of course you have. Even if you are on the do-not-call list, you still get robocalls. Want to do something about robocalls? Then read the following
Consumers Union issued a report, Dialing Back: How Phone Companies Can End Unwanted Robocalls. Here is an excerpt from the executive summary:
The Do Not Call list, federal law enforcement efforts, and actions by the states have not been enough to protect Americans from the flood of unwanted robocalls that have become rampant in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people complain each month to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about unwanted calls, and it’s estimated consumers lose $350 million a year to phone scams. Thanks to rapid advances in Internet technology, robocallers can make thousands of auto-dialed calls per minute for a relatively low cost. Robocall scammers easily escape detection and punishment by operating overseas or using software to disguise—or spoof—their name and number. The problem is so bad that federal agencies and Congress have been exploring solutions to the unwanted robocall problem.
Technological solutions are necessary to address this problem. A number of leading experts agree that phone companies have the power right now to implement technologies to dramatically reduce robocalls.
Consumers Union surveyed a variety of experts and innovators and found there are at least four proposed and existing robocall filtering technologies that phone companies could pursue to help protect their customers from unwanted robocalls. One solution, the Primus Telemarketing Guard, has been successfully implemented for traditional and broadband phone lines in Canada, which calls into question why similar technologies have not been offered in the United States.
The executive summary reviews call-blocking technologies that phone companies may provide and then offers the following recommendations:
● Phone companies should immediately offer free robocall-filtering services to all of their customers based on latest available technology.
● Phone companies should immediately develop "Do Not Originate" techniques to reduce spoofing by fraudulent callers.
● Phone companies should continue to pursue call authentication strategies as a long-term solution to the spoofing problem
To read more about Consumers Union's efforts to fight robocalls, click here.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
CMS has released the 2016 amounts for deductibles, premiums, and co-pays for Medicare A and B. The Inpatient Hospital Deductible and Hospital and Extended Care Services Coinsurance Amounts are available in the Federal Register here. (The inpatient deductible is $1,288 for 2016). The Part B amounts are available here. Remember because there is no COLA this year, the hold harmless provision keeps the Part B premium the same as last year for many Medicare Beneficiaries. For those not protected by the hold harmless provision, their Part B premiums will be $121.80+ $3. Don't forget that higher income beneficiaries will pay a higher premium, referred to as the income-related monthly adjustment. The higher premium amounts can be found here as well.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
One of my regular "must reads" is Aging In Place Technology Watch. I love reading about all the new cool tech and how companies are innovating to make lives better for us as we age. So catching up on reading emails, I was reading the post on the LeadingAge2015 Annual meeting. The technologies reported in this post were fascinating, but the one that really caught my attention was HipHope. Looking at the website, the best way I can describe the technology is wearable air bags.
The website describes the device. "Hip-Hope™ is a revolutionary active hip protector device, providing unprecedented fall impact absorption effectiveness, combined with highly reliable real-time fall detection capability. Hip-Hope™ unique achievements are a result of “out-of-the-box” design concepts and technological innovations."
According to the website, the device deploys in the blink of the eye, and it looks compact and easily wearable. Check out the video demonstrating it.
Monday, November 2, 2015
If you haven't read this yet, this is a must-read. The New York Times did an in-depth series on the use of mandatory arbitration clauses. On October 31, 2015, the Times ran the first in the series: Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice. On November 1, 2015, the next story in the series ran: In Arbitration, a 'Privatization of the Justice System'.
I recommend you read them in order. What you learn may be surprising. We have all heard about arbitration clauses in long-term care agreements. You may be surprised to learn the breadth of use of arbitration clauses.
Read the series. And assign it to your students.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Today Ken Dychtwald (AgeWave) will appear on NPR/KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny. The call-in program is set from 10-11 pdt. According to the email announcement I received from AgeWave, the program host and Mr. Dychtwald "will be candidly discussing Ken’s thoughts and personal feelings about what it means to be an aging expert who just turned 65. For the first time, Ken will publicly reflect on how he is both distressed and motivated by his own aging process and how his books, such as Age Wave, may or may not jibe with what he is now experiencing personally." Listen to the interview here: http://www.kqed.org/radio/listen/.
Can't make the live program? This is the link to where the interview will be archived:
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
The Pew Research Center released a map showing the aging of America by county. Where do the oldest Americans live? provides a map of the U.S. that shows the percentage of a county's population 65 and older. As the website explains, due to the aging of the Boomers and increased longevity,
more counties across America are graying. A new Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2014 population estimates finds that 97% of counties saw an increase in their 65-and-older population since 2010.
On average, a U.S. county’s 65-and-older population grew by 12.4% from 2010 to 2014. (Our analysis of population change over time included only counties or county equivalents with a population of 1,000 or more adults ages 65 and older in 2014.)
And yes, Florida is still one of the "grayest" states, with 3 Florida counties ranking in the top 4 of the grayest counties. The report notes as well that some states are getting "younger" with
a tiny share of counties (3%) saw a drop in the 65-and-older demographic since 2010. Oklahoma’s small Alfalfa County, on the Kansas border, had the highest rate of decrease in the 65-and-older population, at 9.5%... North Dakota ... had two counties, Williams and Wells, rank among the top five for rate of decrease of adults 65 and older. Three counties experienced no change since 2010... Alaska is the “youngest” state based on its share that is 65 and older (9.4%). Fully 26 of 29 Alaska counties have percentages of people 65 and older that fall below the U.S. average.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
I was reading a blog post from Aging in Place Technology Watch which offered a roundup of tech announcements coming out of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. I was intrigued by the UberAssist project which according to the announcement on Uber's website
Today, Uber will participate in the White House Conference on Aging and discuss Uber’s efforts to engage the senior community. At the event, we will announce the launch of a pilot program for community-based senior outreach. In cities across the country, Uber will offer free technology tutorials and free rides at select retirement communities and senior centers. Alongside public and private sector representatives, we hope to further the conversation about the way technology adoption can improve older adults’ day-to-day lives.
Uber has some projects going in Florida, for example, in Gainesville, Uber
is working with the City ... to offer on-demand transportation for residents of two senior centers as part of a six month program. Anytime a resident at a participating senior center needs a ride, he or she can request one at an even more affordable rate because of support from the city. Free technology tutorials will be available throughout, so residents of the participating centers can feel comfortable and at ease using Uber. Uber is also piloting a similar senior ride program in partnership with the Town of Miami Lakes.
a unique new collaborative research and development initiative for open innovation that will examine and share solutions for aging well. The initiative will identify new technologies, products and services, as well as provide thought leadership in collaboration with older adults, caregivers, healthcare systems, payers, policy makers, corporate innovators, entrepreneurs and academia. The AWH will also seek solutions to improve technology adoption among older adults and make aging well a reality for more people, by enabling them to better connect with their communities and healthcare providers.
You can read all of the WHCOA partner press releases and announcements here.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
The New York Times ran a story on July 17, 2015 on how scammers are targeting older individuals on internet dating sites. Swindlers Target Older Women on Dating Websites tells the stories of several elders who ended up sending significant sums of money to scammers who had developed virtual relationships with these elders. This high-tech version of the "romance con" has resulted in the legislature in at least one state, Vermont, to consider "pass[ing] a law requiring online dating sites to notify members quickly when there is suspicious activity on their accounts or when another member has been barred on suspicion of financial fraud." As well, the story explains, the proliferation of the virtual version of the romance con was the impetus for action from AARP.
Despite warnings, the digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP’s Fraud Watch Network in June urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud. The safeguards it suggests include using computer algorithms to detect suspicious language patterns, searching for fake profiles, alerting members who have been in contact with someone using a fake profile and providing more education so members are aware of romance cons.
The AARP network recommends that from the beginning, dating site members use Google’s “search by image” to see if the suitor’s picture appears on other sites with different names. If an email from “a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites,” the network advised.
On AARP's site, individuals can learn more about these digital romance cons, sign an on-line petition to dating sites to adopt safety measures, and learn 10 tips on how to spot a romance scammer and 5 tips to protect oneself from this "virtual heartbreak".
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Professor Cynthia Bond at John Marshall Law is doing a survey on how law profs use pop culture in their classrooms. Here is her email providing more info and requesting responses to her survey:
Greetings Law Teacher Colleagues:
I am working on an article this summer on uses of popular culture in the law school classroom. I am defining popular culture broadly to include mass culture texts like movies, TV shows, popular music, images which circulate on the internet, etc, and also any current events that you may reference in the classroom which are not purely legal in nature (i.e. not simply a recent court decision).
To support this article, I am doing a rather unscientific survey to get a sense of what law professors are doing in this area. If you are a law professor and you use popular culture in your class, I would be most grateful if you could answer this quick, anonymous survey I have put together:
Thanks in advance for your time and have a wonderful rest of summer!
The John Marshall Law School
Saturday, June 13, 2015
The New York Times' "On this Day" squib reminded us today:
"On June 13, 1966, the Supreme Court issued its landmark Miranda vs. Arizona decision, ruling that criminal suspects must be informed of their constitutional rights prior to questioning by police."
That triggered memories, as the day the landmark decision first became known in Arizona, the father of one of my friends offered everyone in the neighborhood a glass of champagne, even us kids. At the time I did not fully appreciate the reason. It was only years later that I put it together that the celebrant was John P. Flynn, the lawyer who successfully argued the Miranda case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even more years later, in the 2000 Supreme Court decision of Dickerson v. U.S., another man from that same Phoenix, Arizona neighborhood would confirm the importance of "Miranda warnings" as an accepted mainstay of protection for individuals suspected of crimes. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist did not share the legal or political philosophies that generated the original ruling, but he could be persuaded to respect the role of stare decisis. I have often been bemused by the fact that John Flynn, a bold advocate and life-long Democrat, had once celebrated his biggest victory with the children of the neighborhood, including the children of a future Supreme Court Justice, well known for his conservatism. Phoenix, especially the legal community, was a very small town in those days.
My trip down memory lane took me to a colorful account of John P. Flynn's life. It is the story of a creative and talented lawyer, from an era much more tolerant of personal flaws. Read "Remembering John Flynn" by his one-time law partner Tom Galbraith.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Mark your calendars. The date for the WHCOA has been set for July 13, 2015. The event is going to be webcast live. Folks are encouraged to watch it and even tweet questions for the panelists at the conference. For more ideas and information, click here.
Monday, June 8, 2015
The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article on May 31 about longevity and how to have a fulfilling life with those extra years of living. How to Make the Most of Longer Lives focuses not just on planning financially for living longer, but questions what to do with those added years to be sure one has a meaningful life. The author suggests "[w]e need to marshal imagination and ingenuity to devise new strategies for enhancing the whole range of experiences in later life, including education, faith, housing, work, finance and community" and then offers six suggestions to increase the quality of life: (1) give a new name to this period of life; (2) smooth the way to transition into this part of life (or as the author explains it retirement and then "un-retirement" is "a do-it-yourself process. It’s time to help make this post-midlife passage more efficient and suited to preparing individuals emotionally and spiritually for what lies ahead."); (3) education specifically for the second half of life (4) financial security; (5) promote multi-generational housing; (6) create a model where inventors brainstorm new ideas for this part of life.
The author concludes with reference to the upcoming White House Conference on Aging and the challenges that await all of us with aging.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) published a note in April, 2015 that looked at the question of how much money people have at the end of their lives. A Look At the End-of-Life Financial Situation in America. Here is what the study examined
This report takes a comprehensive look at the financial situation of older Americans at the end of their lives. In particular, it documents the percentage of households with a member who recently died with very few assets (total assets as well as non-housing assets). It also documents income, debt, home-ownership rates, net home equity and the share of their income coming from Social Security benefits for those households.
This report is useful as part of the work by EBRI in looking at retirement security and whether people will have sufficient funds to last the rest of their lives. Here are some bullets from the conclusion:
- For those who died at ages 85 or above, 20.6 percent had no non-housing assets and 12.2 percent had no assets left.
- Among singles who died at or above age 85, 24.6 percent had no non-housing assets left and 16.7 percent had no assets left.
- Those who died at earlier ages were generally worse off financially: 29.8 percent of households that lost a member between ages 50 and 64 had no assets left.
- People who died earlier also had significantly lower household income than households with all surviving members.
- Among singles who died at ages 85 or above, 9.1 percent had outstanding debt (other than mortgage debt) and the average debt amount was $6,368.
- The average net equity left in their primary residence for those who died at ages 85 or above was $141,147 and $83,471 for couple and single households, respectively.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Are you an inventor? Ever have a good idea for an invention? There is a renaissance of sorts in American ingenuity with an increasing number of older Americans becoming inventors. The NY Times ran a story about older inventors on April 17, 2015. More Older Adults Are Becoming Inventors notes this renaissance
Whether as volunteers or for profit, older inventors ... are riding a rising tide of American innovation. They are teaming up, joining inventors clubs and getting their products into the marketplace. And older inventors bring valuable skills to their work, many experts say, like worldly wisdom and problem-solving abilities that can give them an advantage over younger inventors.
According to the article, the Baby Boomers are at least part of the catalysts for this surge of older inventors, as the boomers look for products to assist them as they get older. According to one expert quoted in the article, older inventors may have an edge over younger ones, since "[a]n aging brain can see patterns better.” Before you get out the proverbial drawing board, the article notes that inventions don't necessarily lead to wealth with less than 5% of inventions making money, not to mention the prototype and startup costs