Sometimes an Article About Elder Abuse Is Just Plain Horrifying…

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If you are supporting elder parents or expect to be involved with their assistance in the future, take some time to read the New Yorker article, How the Elderly Lose Their Rights. The long story, by Rachel Aviv, describes the abuses that can occur when unscrupulous people seek the guardianship of elders. It focuses on one family in Nevada — and yes, it is horrifying to read — as a corrupt guardian gets the right to take over an elderly couple’s life, causing extraordinary financial and psychological damage.

This New Yorker piece is a must read for any adult child who is trying to ensure that elder parents live a full and robust life for as long as they are able. It illustrates why families need to meet with an attorney experienced in elder law who will help to create protective documents for family members to sign. These documents that can create a barrier for unscrupulous and corrupt individuals seeking guardianship.

I’ve read several blog posts that respond to Aviv’s article. The post at ElderLawAnswers.com which offers a detailed information to the New Yorker piece and also describes some of the legislative changes — state and national —  that aim to prevent such elder abuse.

 

Prepare Elderly Parents for Their New Medicare Cards

If you are an individual who focuses on personal data security, one of the most surprising things you discover when it’s time to offer support to aging parents is that  Social Security numbers appear right on the front of the Medicare card. Americans are told not to carry their Social Security cards around, but once they begin receiving Medicare benefits, their Social Security numbers are printed on a different card.

medicare card

CMS will be mailing new cards between April 2018 and April 2019.

The good news is that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be sending updated and more secure cards, issuing them between beginning April 2018 and April 2019. Each new Medicare card will have a unique, randomly assigned identification number that has no connection to a Social Security number. A new Medicare number will cut down on fraud and fight identity theft. CMS will begin mailing about 60 million new cards in April 2018 and will take a year to get them all mailed. No beneficiary needs to do or pay anything for a new card — it will arrive in the mail.     Continue reading

Plan to Help Elderly Parents Set Up Electronic Medical Records

If you assist or provide support for an older elder in your family, check to see whether you need to help out with that individual’s electronic medical records (EMRs). You may have routinely set up your own EMRs without much thought, but many elder adults have not established or have had difficulty establishing their accounts.

EMRs are now a feature of every physician’s office and clinic. Frustratingly, doctors’ offices use different EMR programs, and most are not compatible with one another. Thus each person will often need to set up multiple EMRs, and add new ones when additional physicians enter the picture — something that can confuse a frail parent who sees several doctors.

EMRs offer lots of advantages for patients. for example, people to sign up for appointments and receive text reminders — much nicer than pesky phone calls. Patients and doctors can add information at almost any time and request renewals for their expiring prescriptions. Reviewing visit summaries, checking laboratory test results, and formulating questions before a new medical appointment is easier for patients, and EMRs offer physicians a clean copy of our medical history to read.        Continue reading

You Can’t Parent Your Parent — No Matter What

I just read a touching 2013 column about supporting elderly parents, written by Washington Post columnist, Cortland Milloy.

In his column Milloy addresses the notion, so prevalent these days, that many of us are “parenting our parents.” I’ll let you read the column for yourself, but I have some firm issues when it comes to the idea of parenting parents. Bottom line? I do not use the phrase.

I believe that my parents are elders, and no matter how frail they become, they possess more experience and wider perspective than I do at my younger age. I support, help, assist, and sometimes take charge to make the occasional decision — if absolutely necessary. I consider their welfare, just as they continue, even at their advances ages, to think about mine.

Aging in the later years of life is not fun. People lose their sense of independence, their cars, their friends, their ability to make decisions, and so much more. No matter what, despite either immense physical challenges or failings of memory, we should work hard to give them credit for, to recognize, and to celebrate the well-lived lives they have led.

As for my parents? They are fragile, but if anything, they continue to parent me.

Fraud, Investments, and Our Elder Parents

Check out “Why Older People are Vulnerable to Fraud & How to Protect Them, a February 2017 New York Times article that describes the ways older adults are susceptible to fraudulent phone calls and offers, especially when it concerns investments. It also  makes suggestions about what people who get entangled in these offers can do. The report shares a study conducted by AARP.

Just about everyone receives telephone calls asking them to use their money to do something. The trick as one ages, I believe, is to avoid making any initial decision over the telephone and to be fairly abrupt or rude  — or just hang up — when answering the phone and discovering that a caller is attempting to sell something. The problem is, most of the elders in my life would never think of being rude — it is not a part of their personal DNA.

Most Interesting Findings   Continue reading

The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety

connect-safely-for-seniorsAdult children often find themselves providing technology support services for their aging parents. Now there’s a new, research-based resource to help.

The Connect Safely organization has recently published The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety. The publication contains important information, it’s free, and it’s simple to download as a PDF file. Adult children may want to print the booklet and share this short and easy-to-read guide.

The Seniors Guide to Online Safety addresses a range of issues that are critical for senior and elder adults to consider and understand as they go about online activities. The guide includes safety and privacy tips, information on a range of scams, guidance about securing wifi, and advice about protecting identify and financial information. The goal is to educate older adults with information that comes from experts.

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