Articles Posted in Long Term Care Planning

The aging process is never easy–for the senior or their family. Thoughts of mortality aside, the challenge of dealing with the day to day vulnerabilities of elderly friends and family is something that is impossible to fully appreciate until you experience it first-hand. From figuring out how to get groceries, doing to the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and countless other tasks, seniors who are facing physical and mental decline connected to their age have a myriad of daily struggles.

One of the most acute challenges faced by aging New Yorkers relates to driving. It is easy to forget how much one relies on driving until the privilege is taken away. Considering the importance of driving, it is little wonder than most seniors do everything they can to keep their traveling options open, even when their frailties make it unsafe. Friends and family members of New York seniors must be prudent about monitoring this risk and stepping in when necessary.

Senior Driving Fact Sheet

The changing face of New York nursing home care continued this weekend as another county officially got out of the elder care business. As reported by Syracuse News, the Van Duyn Home and Hospital was transferred by Onondaga County to the “Upstate Services Group” — a private company that owns at least eleven other New York elder care facilities.

This transition was in the works for quite some. The news report explains how the facility has long-been plagued by accusations of poor care on top of acting as a huge financial burden for the county itself. In fact, Van Duyn was under intense scrutiny from federal regulators for its poor caregiving track record. That is on top of more than a dozen private civil lawsuits filed by former residents and their family members against the county alleging negligence.

The financial issue combined with care quality concerns led many to suspect that the 500-bed facility would be shuttered. However, with this transition to private ownership, it appears the the facility is safe–at least for now. Interestingly, one of the main concerns with sales of public facilities to private companies is the risk of a decrease in quality for residents. However, in this case, because of Van Duyn’s poor track record in the past, there were less complaints of that nature.

Checking Facebook, updating Twitter, adding a quick blog. These tasks are becoming ubiquitous among all New Yorkers, including older residents. Social media is a critical part of many lives, and it is the primary way that some stay in touch with family, friends, and acquaintances. However, the medium has risen in popularity so quickly that many rules and customs about how to use these services have yet to develop. For that reason it is important to step back and ensure that you are following best practices when it comes to how you are sharing information via these web programs.

For example, last week Forbes published an interesting story that discusses some social media considerations unique to elder caregivers.

Most importantly, advocates are issuing a call for prudence and caution when posting information about the health and well-being of seniors. Privacy concerns should be considered carefully, particularly when discussing others who may not be able to consent to the information being made available to anyone online.

Many New Yorkers remain unfamiliar with the benefit and flexibility of using trusts to plan for the future and protect assets in the present. Trusts can prove useful for all residents, including most middle class families. In our work with estate planning, we often help set up basic living trusts which help avoid probate and streamline the inheritance process. On the elder law side, Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts are used to protect assets from the “spend down” requirement needed to qualify for Medicaid and secure necessary long-term care.

Beyond those two trusts, however, there are many other options that may prove useful depending on your specific situation. A LifeHealthPro article last week discussed a few “specialty” trusts. A review of the topic is a helpful way to get an idea of the true scope of trusts and the many different ways that they may be used to carry out very specific wishes.

For example, some of the trusts mentioned in the story include:

Many of us can relate to growing concerns over loved ones as they continue to age and require more assistance. It can be challenging to meet these changing needs while still recognizing that our elderly loved ones are capable of performing some tasks on their own. It may seem obvious that legal remedies exist for those addressing extreme issues brought up by dementia and other forms of degenerative disease in elderly family members, who may entirely depend on a third party for assistance with daily life activities. What may not be as obvious is that those solutions are legally available to help address our elderly loved one’s needs without necessarily having them declared incompetent, while also enabling them to utilize a proper degree of autonomy.

New York Law

New York Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 was enacted to provide those seeking guardianship, and the Courts, the opportunity of using the least restrictive means of intervention in order to meet the specific personal or property management needs of the elderly individual while still maintaining an appropriate level of independence based on their capabilities. Specifically, Section 81.02(a)(2) of the Article provides that the Court may appoint a guardian to provide for the personal or financial needs of a person without having them declared incompetent, so long as that person agrees to the appointment. This becomes especially relevant in those situations where an individual is just starting to exhibit the first signs or symptoms of a degenerative disease affecting their mental capacity.

Seniors in Continuing Care Communities in neighboring New Jersey are about to have many new ways to protect their rights and obtain better care. On Thursday, October 17, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the “Bill of Rights for Continuing Care Retirement Community Residents in Independent Living (CCRC).” The bill covers a wide range of issues facing residents in CCRCs, including a resident’s entry into a facility, communication between the facility and the resident, financial issues, and termination of services. The bill also provides for penalties ranging from $250 to $50,000 for violations of the provisions of the bill.

The bill includes the following rights:

· Each resident will be treated with respect, courtesy, consideration, and dignity;

You may remember that on New Year’s Day of this year, a large piece of legislation was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The bill was the one that (temporarily) avoided the fiscal cliff. It was the measure that seemed to permanently set the estate tax rates among other things.

At the same time, the legislation also called for the creation of a Long-Term Care Commission. Comprised of 15 members, selected by both Republican and Democratic leaders, the group was given six months to hold hearings, debate, discuss, and create a report on various issues regarding long-term care nationwide. More specifically, the entity’s specific charge was to “develop recommendations for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality system that ensures the availability of long-term services and supports for individuals who depend on this system to live full and healthy lives.”

The Recommendations

A new study from researchers out of Rochester, New York took a look at quality of care trends from 11,500 nursing home and compared them with the racial make-up of residents in those homes. The summary finding from the project which is making headlines is that long-term care facilities with a higher percentage of black residents provide lower quality care.

First published this summer is a publication known as Health Services Research, the investigation involved analysis of data related to quality of care as well as financial performance over a five year period (1999-2004). Most information was culled from reports provided by the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Those facilities with zero residents on those programs were not included in the research.

The Connection Between Revenue and Nursing Home Care

Yesterday we touched on changes in exemption rules from the U.S. Labor Department which will affect the federal employment rights of home care workers. As discussed, observers on both sides have made predictions on how the changes will affect home care nationwide. Some argue that better treated employees will provide better care to seniors. Others suggest that the home care industry cannot absorb the increased costs and the total number of full-time caregivers will be cut as a result.

But a more important question for New York residents and their families is more preliminary: Is home care right for us?

Making Careful Choices

Nursing homes have a reputation for being ‘behind the times.” New York in particular has a somewhat abysmal track record of providing high-quality care. One on hand, the problems are rooted in finances and personnel. Often operating on tight budgets, some facilities cut corners on staffing, leading many residents to languish without the hands-on care that they need to get by each day.

On top of that, however, there are innovation challenges. Rarely are nursing home lauded for being at the cutting edge of improvements which take advantage of new trends and caregiving approaches. You often read about hospitals or medical clinics that are using the newest and the latest tools to provide care to patients–nursing homes don’t often receive the same plaudits.

Behind the Records Curve

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