As detailed here taking care of an elderly person, particularly an aging Dad or Mom is not an easy task.
But the work will be a lot easier if the son or daughter has a full grasp of the eldercare laws.
The knowledge will help to avoid mistakes, protect himself from liabilities, and aware of how to maintain sanity since the job is physically and emotionally challenging.
There are also financial difficulties, considering that there are over 34.2 million unpaid caregivers and now with the COVID-19, over 48 million family caregivers in the U.S. are caring for loved ones, according to AARP (www.aarp.org/caregiving).
This post will be devoted to explaining the top seven eldercare laws a caregiver should know. You might be wondering why do these laws exist and why it is necessary for a caregiver to know them.
Elder Peoples’ Vulnerability
Please read on. It is true that as people age they become more vulnerable to and easily taken advantage of.
There are many cases of abuse that seniors can fall victim to. These may not come from strangers only; even the people they trust or are closest to could abuse them.
In this respect, aging seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are the most vulnerable. With the sophisticated scamming schemes, even cognitively sound elders and healthy adults are also prone to be defrauded.
This is why these laws exist to protect the aging person and the need for caregivers to be aware of and know them.
These problems should be covered by the caregiver during the initial preparations or due diligence before taking on caring for a loved one.
The need for careful planning or due diligence can’t be overemphasized. The consequence of failure will put the caregiver or the family as a whole, in unpleasant legal situations.
7 Eldercare Laws An Elder Caregiver Should Know.
According to The Balance (https://www.thebalance.com/), the eldercare law is the specialized field of law that addresses the diverse legal needs of the aging populations. It focuses on the legal issues affecting baby boomers and their elderly parents. Lawyers who are versed in these issues are known as elder law attorneys.
The first eldercare law I will discuss is known as
The Power of Attorney (POA).
This document allows the elderly person to appoint someone of his/her choice as the legal agent that can make certain financial and Healthcare decisions for him in the event of incapacitation.
Note: it is important for the caregiver to have a power of attorney to provide care for the aging loved parent.
This will allow him to make important medical decisions when a loved one is incapable to make those decisions for themself.
The power of attorney can also grant financial access, allowing you to keep medical and other bills paid.
Whoever is chosen for the power of attorney should be absolutely trustworthy and should have the loved one’s best interest at heart.
The next law is the:
In this document, the elder person dictates which treatments he would or would not want.
For example, the aging person would say if they ever need to be placed on life support, including the length of time that they want to remain on ventilation.
Decisions regarding life support and quality of life are best made when your aging loved one is still himself, cognitively sound to avoid the drama of having to make those decisions at the hospital later, and will be easier to follow through with it when the time comes.
The emotions and drama of the moment will be removed, allowing the caretaker to follow through with what the loved one would really want.
Without these documents, the court will randomly appoint any person.
The next law deals with long-term services available when the elderly person can’t take care of himself.
The following are provided under this law:
Assisted-living facilities, Health insurance
through Medicare/Medicaid, or through the Department of Veterans Affairs in case of war veterans.
Because the programs are complicated, it’s a good idea for the caregiver to educate himself about these programs to know how to help the loved one plan for their future.
The caregiver may research governmental assistance programs, to find all the required information.
The next law deals with the management of the elder’s property, who will make sure his final wishes were obeyed.
If this law is properly executed will avoid probate, (court-supervised process for settling a deceased person’s estate), and will minimize estate taxes, etc., ensures that your beneficiaries are protected from bad decisions and outside influences.
All these are dealt with under
Estate Planning and Settlement.
The next law is called,
Guardianship or Conservatorship
(the name depends on the State)
and is also a court-supervised process. This law is used if there was no power of Attorney in which case a family member, friend, or any person can go to court and petition for a guardian or conservator be appointed on behalf of the incapacitated elder person.
The next law deals with
like fraud or coaxed to change their will or revocable living trust. Such abuse has led to this specialized area of litigation aimed at preserving,
and, when needed, recovering, an elder person’s assets.
Note To Caretakers
Eldercare law has a standard of Care which caretakers are bound to comply with.
When there is a breach, the Adult Protective Services could step in and enforce the law.
The action could include relocating your loved one in a nursing home.
As the caretaker of an elderly parent, be aware that all the healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, etc. helping you take care of your loved one, are constantly watching for any signs of abuse – physical, mental, etc.
If they have any reason to believe that any of the abuses is happening to the elderly person, including being robbed financially, intimidated, harassed, etc. by a caregiver then they will invite the authorities.
Remember that not all harm occurs intentionally. Even at that, it would not be accepted as an excuse.
This is why due diligence including careful assessment of your skills, time available to do a good job, and in particular your patience level must be reviewed before deciding to take on the caregiving duties.
If you believe you are wanting in any of these it would be better to find a substitute person or hire an elder care provider.
Finally, remember these laws vary depending on the state the elderly senior lives in. The elder law attorney would be the best person to consult.
Eldercare laws were established to take care of elder people, keep them safe, and provide for them when they reached a certain specified age or unable to provide for themselves.
The laws are also helpful to eldercare takers and also keep them in check.
It is advisable for elder caregivers to study and be aware of the requirements of the law before embarking on taking care of the elder father or mother.
The consequences of abusing an elder person are stiff.
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