Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, February 25, 2017

New Study Finds Link Between Excess Sugar & Alzheimer's

SugaarA new study’s finding claims that scientists have found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and excess sugar. More specifically, there is a correlation between a person’s blood sugar glucose and the disease, evincing that people with high sugar diets could be at a greater risk of developing the disease. An Australian university found that excess glucose damages an essential enzyme associated with inflammation response in the early stages of the degenerative neurological condition. Glucose can damage the proteins in cells through a reaction called glycation, which in turn damages an enzyme called macrophage migration inhibitory factor. Consequently, researchers believe that this process presents the “tipping point” in Alzheimer’s progression. Further, abnormally high blood sugar levels is a characteristic of diabetes, and these patients have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. 

See Excess Sugar Linked to Alzheimer’s: Study Finds a ‘Tipping Point’, Fox News, February 24, 2017. 


February 25, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Food and Drink, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How Cannabis Is Helping America's Elders

Elder marijuanaA New York City nursing home is taking unusual steps to help residents use medical marijuana as an alternative to prescription drugs. The Hebrew Home at Riverdale will allow residents to buy marijuana from a dispensary, keep the products in locked boxes in their rooms, and administer it on their own. Elderly Americans are increasingly turning to marijuana as an alternative, one with fewer side effects, for aches and pains. Additionally, in the State of Washington, as a response to demands from residents, at least twelve assisted living facilities maintain formal medical marijuana policies. However, several nursing homes and assisted living facilities are concerned about the penalties that could result from allowing residents to indulge in such practices. As research continues to progress the idea, one thing is for sure: America’s elders are increasingly exploring alternatives for fighting pain.  

See Winnie Hu, When Retirement Comes with a Daily Dose of Cannabis, N.Y. Times, February 19, 2017. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  


February 22, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Article on Domestic Partnerships for the Elderly After Obergefell

Domestic partnershipHeidi Brady & Robin Fretwell Wilson recently published an Article entitled, The Precarious Status of Domestic Partnerships for the Elderly in a Post-Obergefell World, 24 Elder L.J. (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges gave same-sex couples the right to marry in all fifty states, correcting the injustice that non-marital legal statuses like domestic partnerships were intended to remedy. Now that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, the federal government and states that created domestic partnerships are considering how to treat couples in those statuses — specifically, whether to treat domestic partners like spouses and whether to continue to offer non-marital legal statuses at all. Three states face a particularly thorny question post-Obergefell: what should be done with domestic partnerships made available to elderly same-sex and straight couples at a time when same-sex couples could not marry. This Article examines why California, New Jersey, and Washington opened domestic partnerships to elderly couples. Although domestic partnerships in these states primarily responded to the needs of gay couples who could not marry, legislators also saw the elderly as sympathetic: unfairly prevented from remarrying for fear of losing benefits from a previous marriage. This Article drills down on three specific obligations and benefits tied to marriage — receipt of alimony, Social Security spousal benefits, and duties to support a partner who needs long-term care under the Medicaid program — and shows that entering a domestic partnership rather than marrying does not benefit all elderly couples; rather, the value of avoiding marriage varies by wealth and benefit. The Article concludes that as pressure mounts to fold domestic partners into marriage after Obergefell, legislators should examine whether domestic partnerships have become a province of the wealthy, undercutting the impetus for maintaining a second, collateral status.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


February 20, 2017 in Articles, Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Immigration Policies Could Increase Costs for Seniors

Long term careAs President Trump moves to reduce the number of immigrants, retirees will see an increase in price for assisted care and nursing facilities. In turn, this could force seniors out of their homes and cause them to spend substantially more on these health care needs. Approximately one in four homecare aides are undocumented immigrants, forcing Latino and Muslim nurses to worry about potential deportation. If this correlation continues, seniors will be forced to spend more or undertake a lower standard of living. Ultimately, the trend shows that Trump’s immigration policies will cause a decrease in the availability of long-term care needs for seniors.  

See Ted Knutson, Trump Immigration Moves Could Mean Big Bills for Seniors, Financial Advisor, February 17, 2017. 


February 17, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Elder Abuse Act Likely to Become Law This Year

Elder abuse acThe Elder Abuse and Prevention Act has a high chance of becoming law this year. The legislation has received substantial support among elderly advocacy groups because of its promise to make the world a safer place for seniors. Additionally, the Act will increase penalties for marketing fraud schemes targeting seniors and expand data collection of elder abuse to help create more reliable statistics highlighting the prevalence of this problem. The Act is also aiming to enlist the Justice Department to become a greater protector of seniors.   

See Ted Knutson, Elder Abuse Act Has Good Chance of Becoming Law This Year, Financial Advisor, February 9, 2017. 


February 9, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Caregiving Costs More than You Think

Expensive caregivingA recent survey claims that Americans drastically underestimate the costs associated with caring for their loved ones. Caregivers make up a large percentage of the population; specifically, out of the 1,000 people surveyed, 40% were caregivers and 20% expected to step into that role. According to the current caregivers, caregiving expenses compromised nearly one-third of their budgets. However, only 25% of future caregivers thought financial support was a key attribute of caregiving. Because caregiving expenses are enhanced by the unintentional failure of Americans to plan for long-term care, it is important to understand the financial burden that caregiving can bring to a family and how best to alleviate those costs. 

See Christopher Robbins, Caregiving Costs Higher than You Probably Think, Financial Advisor, February 8, 2017. 


February 9, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Clinic Tricks Patients into Thinking They Had Alzheimer's

Clinic lies about alzheimersMore than fifty former patients from a now-closed Ohio clinic are suing the clinic’s director and owner, claiming that they tricked them into thinking they had Alzheimer’s disease when they actually did not. Some of the patients claim that they underwent treatment for almost a year before realizing that they were not suffering from the disease. As a result, the patients’ families were devastated, and several contemplated taking their own lives. Ultimately, it was found that the clinic director did not have a license to practice medicine.   

See Clinic Falsely Told Dozens They Had Alzheimer’s, Suits Say, Fox News, February 8, 2017. 


February 8, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Upcoming Court Decision May Decide if Employers Can Reject Older Job Seekers

Texas roadhouseTexas Roadhouse, a nationwide steakhouse chain, has a practice, according to officials, of discriminating against potential employees over forty and rejecting them for jobs where the customers will be in contact with them. This particular suit, which resides in a Boston federal district court, is the first its kind for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—which is responsible for enforcing job discrimination laws—because for the first time, it has conducted its own investigations and filed suit rather than waiting for individuals to complain and giving them permission to sue on their own. Age bias cases remain less clear, as the idea of pitting the young against the old has been notoriously unpopular with juries and society. The EEOC has presented several pieces of evidence in its directed investigation that show company officials have continuously discriminated on the basis of age in their hiring practices. On the other hand, the restaurant’s argument hinges on the 25-year-long reading of the ADEA that has shifted age discrimination from being categorically compared to race and gender to being of lesser consequence with a greater legal burden to prove. With closing arguments aside, a jury verdict will soon come down and, perhaps with it, new grounds for age discrimination or even new barriers.     

See Peter Gosselin, Federal Court May Decide if Employers Can Reject Older Job Seekers to Protect ‘Image’, Pro Publica, January 31, 2017. 

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


February 3, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Brain Games Help Prevent Cognitive Decline in Elderly

Brain gamesCompared to their peers who do not challenge their minds, elders who engage in mentally stimulating activities may be at a lower risk for developing mild cognitive impairment. Researchers surveyed patients various activities and how frequently they did those activities per week. For those elders age 70 and older, playing games that are cognitively stimulating was associated with a 22% reduced risk in new-onset mild cognitive impairment, a condition that usually occurs before getting dementia. Additionally, working on crafts, computer use, and social activities were similarly credited with reducing the risk of mild cognitive impairment. Ultimately, researchers suggested that elders keep their minds sharp by doing something engaging and fun that they enjoy spending time on. 

See Brain Games Linked to Delayed Cognitive Decline in Elderly, Fox News, February 1, 2017. 


February 1, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Man with Dementia's Family Abandons Him in UK Parking Lot

Roger curryRoger Curry, a 76-year-old man with dementia, was flown to Britain and dumped in a parking lot by his wife and son. In November 2015, Curry was discovered outside of the bus station in Hereford. When cops arrived, he had two other men with him, one of which had an American accent. However, as soon as paramedics arrived, the American man disappeared, leaving cops to believe that he was a relative who was abandoning Curry. He spent the next eight months in a British nursing home, while cops were trying to figure out his identity. Curry’s son has claimed that he had nothing to do with his father’s abandonment. 

See Relatives Accused of Abandoning Calif. Man with Dementia in UK Parking Lot, Fox News, January 30, 2017. 


January 31, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)