Aging comes with a wide variety of issues and relying on the care of your family is not a resource available to all. Whether it is due to lack of accessibility, estranged familial relationships, or advanced care requirements, many elderly find themselves alone in their older age.

This is not a phenomenon specific to America, it is an issue experienced by countries across the world. Certain cultures are more focused on caring for their elders, much like those elders helped raise them, while others have a less integrated idea of family including care for their elders.

In fact, the issue of elderly abandonment was such a large problem in Japan it was deemed “granny dumping”. While this practice, where senile senior citizens were taken up to the top of mountains and left there by loved ones due to the inability to care for them, is a very old practice, the modern version of abandonment is once against becoming a problem. Today, elderly individuals are being taken to local hospitals, churches and charities, and being left like they used to in the mountains.

Daily, thousands of baby boomers are forced to make the decision as to whether they need care and assistance as they continue to age. Currently, there are 1.4 million adults residing in nursing homes and that number will only continue to grow over the next few decades. Plans for how to cover the millions of adults who thought they would rely on Medicare and Medicaid in their old age as well as where they will live and who will assist in taking care of them if needed, are questions that must be addressed soon.

Thus, it is not surprising that it took four years and thousands of comments in the rulemaking process in order to revise the broad nursing home regulations that were put in place in the 1990s under the Nursing Home Reform Act. Nursing homes must comply with federal nursing home regulations, but some state laws have adopted more strict laws.

What New Regulations?

Many of our elderly adults end up in nursing homes or assisted living, whether as a result of an accident or due to a declining ability to care for themselves. While many have family members or friends who are able to ensure their loved one is being taken care of properly in their respective homes, not all of those elderly are fortunate to have someone to look after them. In fact, the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States were cited for nearly 10,000 instances of abuse over a two year period.

Abuse in a nursing home can take many forms, some problems involving physical abuse and negligent include untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care through dehydration and improper hygiene, as well as physical abuse such as broken bones, untreated bruises and cuts. Other examples of abuse involve verbal abuse, for example yelling, and ignoring requests, as well as withholding medication.

This problem happens all too often, and it can come down to the caretakers word against the elderly abused patient. An Illinois man concerned about the care of his father after he voiced concerns about a new nurse, installed a surveillance camera in his father’s room in an assisted living home. The camera unfortunately confirmed exactly what he believed, he was being neglected at times, verbally and physically abused by a certified nurse’s aid working at the facility. The nurse was charged with a felony aggravated battery to a person older than 60 years and felony abuse of a long-term health care facility resident.

Another major platform that President Trump ran under was the promise to repeal the widely contested Obamacare plans, and to instead bolster Medicare and Medicaid eligibility and benefits. Since taking office, the businessman has changed his position multiple times regarding whether an overhaul of the system will be made or whether he will keep his promise to leave Social Security and Medicare alone.

Medicare Proposals by the House

House Speaker Paul Ryan has been an avid supporter of overhauling the system, by combining Medicare Parts A and B and also increasing the Medicare age of retirement to that of the full retirement age that one must qualify for with Social Security. Additionally, this proposal would allow Medicare beneficiaries to choose which plan they wish to elect between private plans or traditional plans, based on their health needs, but would not take effect until 2024.

Winter months are difficult on many of those who live in areas that experience great seasonal changes. The National Center for Health Services actually found that death rates are twice as high in the winter than the hottest part of summer. Not only do we have bundle up and face the chilling weather, there is also a major threat of seasonal illness.

Thus, it is not surprising that individuals have the highest risk of dying from natural causes in the end of December and beginning of January. In fact, one study showed that those who die from natural causes, circulatory problems, respiratory diseases, nutritional/metabolic problems, digestive diseases and cancer have a greater chance of dying between Christmas and New Years than any other time of year.

Not Just in America

Recent Recalls

Open heart surgery has saved the lives of thousands of patients across America, as well as the world. Performing this task takes a highly skilled team of doctors well equipped with the right medical devices to assist them. All of these tools require FDA approval and specific cleaning procedures prior to their implementation during surgery. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention announced that a heater cooler unit that has been used in the majority of these surgeries since 2012, could have been contaminated when it was in the manufacturing process.

Heater Cooler Units for Open Heart Surgery

Physician assisted suicide has been a controversial topic across the world, however as the reasoning behind it becomes better understood, many countries have chosen to legalize the practice for reasons outside of terminal illness. In the United States, in the past few decades, the public began to take notice with news headlines such as those regarding Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan physician who helped assist numerous patients chose when they would die from terminal illnesses and subsequently served eight years for his acts.

Today, physician assistance in dying is legal in Washington, Vermont, Montana, Oregon, with California recently signing in their aid in dying legislation in June 2016, Colorado approving a ballot measure in the most recent November 2016 election by two thirds majority, as well as the District of Columbia signing in their version of the same aid in dying law in December 2016. With a not so surprising passage of these laws comes the realization that Americans as a whole see the reasoning or at least themselves would want the option, in the circumstance they were to become terminally ill.

What is different with the United States’ various aid in dying laws in place is that they are all for those patients that are terminally ill, requiring certain validation steps through physicians and therapists.

When you begin estate planning, there are a variety of options that are available in order to plan how your estate will be distributed and may seem very similar, however, they all have distinct benefits. Two main estate planning tools commonly used are wills and/or trusts, but their main features are very different. When determining which tools are right for you, you should first assess what stage of distribution and what assets you wish to control.

Trusts

There are a number of different types of trust that one may use, depending on what their intentions are. Trusts can be enacted during the grantor’s, also known as the person who made the trust, lifetime, or may take effect upon the death of the grantor. When forming a trust, the grantor seeks to transfer their property to the trust, which is run by a trustee. A trustee can be any number of people, but are neutral third parties who are employed to operate in the best interest of all interested parties involved, including both the grantor and those beneficiaries.

When a deceased individual, known as a decedent, leaves a Will, family members and friends that have reason to believe something may be wrong with that Will may be able to have a court rule that the Will is invalid in some situations. The following are examples of common situations in which a person may have reason to ask a court to overturn a Will, most of which can be avoided by working with an attorney to create a valid Will.

The Will Does Not Comply with Law

There are several specific requirements the person making a Will, known as the testator, must comply with for a Will to be valid in New York. Basically, these include:

Pets play a special role in all our lives; they serve as companions, security, as well as important additions to our families. However, when it comes to naming beneficiaries in your will, it has long been debated on a state level whether pets can legally be named as beneficiaries of an estate, due to their lack of capacity.

Many people name their animals, such as their dogs or cats, in their will, without realizing that, depending upon the state in which they make the will enforceable, probate court may find the provision invalid and treat the bequest as if it had not been named, passing down using the rules of probate court.

In order to effectively name a pet as a beneficiary in a will, there are specific ways of writing the provision that ensures your pet will be cared for after your passing. You can designate a friend or relative in your will to be the caretaker of the pet in the event of your passing. In this provision, you can designate a specific amount of money that will be received for care, for taking the pet, and what will happen upon the pet’s death. The caretaker of the animal will then become the owner of the pet legally, because pets are technically considered living property.

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