MY LIFE AS A CAREGIVER, PART II

My boss told me the other day that he was proud of me. He complimented me on how I managed to pursue another graduate degree, work for two law practices and care for my mother. The “old” me would have luxuriated in the praise. The “new” me realizes that I am doing exactly what I ought to do. The “old” me would have said I achieved this juggling act in spite of being a caregiver. The “new” me realizes that I achieved this juggling act because I am a caregiver.

My professional career revolves around caring and protecting the elderly. I could not, in good conscience, not do the same for my mother. As I mentioned previously, I used to browbeat myself, wondering if I am doing this right and worrying whether she feels loved and wanted .

I would like to share with you what I have learned through this journey:

  • Do not get caught up on who is not pitching in to help. You will drive yourself to distraction and heartbreak. Stay focused on what you are providing for your loved one. Trust me, it is appreciated.
  • Allow yourself to have a moment. Believe it or not, it will pass. It takes too much energy to keep up a facade.
  • Tell yourself the truth about your situation. Making up a story to appease yourself is lying. Period.
  • People are always cautioning to ask for help. They may mean well, but unless they have a working knowledge of your daily interaction with your loved one, it can turn ugly. I experienced those who tried to help. Even though it “may” not have been intentional,  the “helpers” created a mess, leaving me to clean up the collateral damage  when they went home.
  • I have been fortunate enough to work from home. Please be clear; there will be a push back. You will have to make sacrifices. People will stop by  to “keep you company” knowing that you are home because you are working and you are not able leave your loved one alone. Note: As long as you are managing, those who promised to help, will not.
  • If someone offers you a few minutes to take a walk, take it. You will feel better and you will be able to exhale.
  • If you want to vent, vent to the social worker and the healthcare professionals your loved one sees. You will find that many people will not find talking about your challenges as a caregiver good conversation. I have had even family members cut the conversation short.
  • This may sound like shade, but I am going to say it. Unless one is in the trenches or can offer you insight from experience and/or training, their input is useless. You will be offended and may lose it.

I am not trying to scare anyone from being a caregiver. Personally, I have found it rewarding and I have grown personally and professionally. But that is my experience.  My dining room is now a bedroom for my mother with a hospital bed (see picture above).  I had to move her downstairs because of the stairs. Also, I now have alarms on my doors so that I can hear her when she decides to venture off or open a door when she has an episode.

I would have never imagined having a hospital bed and a commode in my home, let alone in my dining room. For many of us, this is our new normal. Be honest with yourself. If you do not feel that you can be a caregiver on a regular basis, please do not torture yourself. It is better that you tell the truth rather than to become resentful and then later abusive to your loved one.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

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SWEDEN, AN EXAMPLE FOR THE WORLD ON HOW THE TAKE OF THE ELDERLY

The elderly people in Sweden is a growing share of the Swedish population. Many are in good health and lead active lives, and most live in their own homes. Many say that elderly care in Sweden is the best in the world. Sweden invests more of its gross domestic product in its elderly than any other country in the world. According to http://www.sweden.se, Sweden’s allocation to elderly care is almost five times the European Union average.

It is estimated that In 20 years’ time, one Swede in four will be over 65, and most of the people in this age group will be active and healthy. Several initiatives aimed at meeting future needs are now being put in place around the country. Sweden has been invested SEK $4.6 billion ($702,277,400 in US) measures to improve health and social care for the most infirm members of the 65+ age group. The aim is to improve coordination of home health care, elderly care, hospital care and health-center care provided to elderly people.

In terms of home care, the government offers assistance from the local government to elderly persons who are no longer able to cope with the demands of everyday life.  The care provided is accessed by need. Elderly people with disabilities and those who are severely ill can receive assistance around the clock, which means that many are able to remain at home throughout their lives.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

If you live in Philadelphia, PA or the surrounding areas or in the State of New Jersey, you may contact the Pile Law Firm at 610-718-6368 for assistance in elder law and estate planning matters. The website is http://www.pilelaw.com.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

THE ELDERLY AND HOLIDAY SCAMS

The holidays tend to bring out the best and the worst in our society. People tend to become more generous than usual. Unfortunately, this is what scammers are counting on. Scammers also are searching Facebook and other sites for personal information to sound like they know you.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Christmas is the time that scammers rely on the elderly to be more generous, concocting elaborate schemes and “sad stories” to tug that their heartstrings. One of the most recent scams targeted at seniors is the distress call regarding grandchildren. The caller tells the victims that he/she is their grandchild or calling for their grandchild. He/she tells them he/she or the grandchild is in trouble out of state and needs cash wired right away. The caller also tells the elderly victims not to tell his/her mother or father, according to police.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that dishonest telemarketers take in an estimated $40 billion each year, bilking one in six American consumers — and the AARP claims that about 80% of them are 50 or older. Older adults can protect themselves by:

  • throwing junk mail away;
  • question the caller, usually this will deter him/her from speaking further;
  • when you are on the internet, make sure that you are on a secure site, particularly when making online purchases;
  • make sure that you do not select “remember me”or the “keep me signed in” to prevent anyone from accessing your online banking or shopping accounts;
  • do not give personal information over the phone;
  • contact the Better Business Bureau if you have questions about a potential contractor;
  • visit the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov, the National Consumer League at http://www.nclnet.org and AARP at http://www.aarp.org for the latest financial scams and reports.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

If you live in Philadelphia, PA or the surrounding areas or in the State of New Jersey, you may contact the Pile Law Firm at 610-718-6368 for assistance in elder law and estate planning matters. The website is http://www.pilelaw.com.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION’S WAR ON ELDER ABUSE

For years, the American Bar Association has pushed for better training of those involved in the prevention of elder abuse. They have also stressed the need for district attorneys to become more diligent in prosecuting these cases.
Many of us may not know that the American Bar Association has written recommendation letters to various agencies, banking regulators and the court system. The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging has tackled various topics. Here is an overview of those topics:

Banks Reporting Financial Abuse of the Elderly – Training of bank tellers and banks reporting financial abuse

Durable Power of Attorney Abuse

Undue Influence

The Brooke Astor Case

Court-Focused Elder Abuse Initiatives.

Managing Someone Else’s Money

Elder Justice Act

The Judicial System’s Role in Cases Involving Elder Abuse–I have previously wrote about the Bar Association’s concern in regards to district attorney offices only prosecuting the cases that they think that they can win. In many ways, this has enable those abusers to possibly  continue this behavior without fear of any consequences. From personal experience, it is frustrating to watch local authorities find a way not to investigate claims. I must add that we cannot blame those judges who, in fact in many jurisdictions, have encouraged prosecutors to bring these cases to them. In Pennsylvania, there is a task force of judges promoting this initiative.

Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams

Guardianship Jurisdiction

Neglect

Annual Summaries of State Legislation Amending Adult Protective Service Laws

Laws Related to Elder Abuse

It appears that the American Bar Association, elder law and trusts/estate attorneys and those organizations dedicated to addressing elder abuse are the only hope to educate the prosecutors in this country and insist that states become pro-active this uphill battle.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

If you live in Philadelphia, PA or the surrounding areas or in the State of New Jersey, you may contact the Pile Law Firm at 610-718-6368 for assistance in elder law and estate planning matters. The website is http://www.pilelaw.com.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

CHINESE LAW REQUIRING ADULT CHILDREN TO CARE FOR THEIR ELDERLY PARENTS

Taking of an elderly parent should be done in love not by laws. It is hard to believe that a government has to by creating of a law to make someone take care of their parents.  China has passed a law in July requiring  that adult children provide mental support, in addition to financial support and life care, to their parents once they reach the age of 60.

This law was enacted as a result of  rising concerns that China has evolving into a more modern society and its tradition values of family are suffering. Elder abuse is a relatively new concern for China. In fact, most families are outraged by this growing health issue.

To date, over 1,000 elderly parents have sued their children for financial support. Of course, the elderly parents subject themselves to reprisals from their children.

In addition to China, India, France and the Ukraine have similar laws.  In the Spain under the Civil Code, spouses and children of elderly dependent people are responsible for their maintenance and care which covers everything that is essential for sustenance, shelter, clothing and medical assistance. The extent of the maintenance to be provided depends on the means of the providers and the needs of the dependent person. The obligation to provide maintenance comes to an end when the provider dies or when their wealth has fallen to such a level that continuing to do so would mean having to neglect their own needs or those of their family.

In the United States, there are  30 states that have laws requiring mandatory care of indigent elderly parents. These laws are seldom enforced while others of those 30 states ignore them.

I just want to remind everyone that if you live long enough, you will grow old. You reap what you sow.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

PROSECUTING ELDER ABUSE CASES

Elder Law and Estate attorneys hear elder abuse horror stories daily. Many times the hurdles they face in having these cases prosecuted are ridiculous. One attorney complained that the biggest problem handling these cases is that most of them involve family members. George Johnson, a Paducah, Kentucky police detective sergeant said that it is complicated because when you have someone in a caretaker role and there’s a guardianship, they’re the one spending the money. He also noted that bank records can show patterns of behavior, but it’s difficult to prove any wrongdoing. Many victims often refuse to testify against a loved one, or do so only to later recant their testimony.The victims often cannot communicate, have diminished mental capacity or die.

Attorneys seldom receive support from the local authorities. Loved ones file complaints with the local police and will not receive a return phone call and also it unlikely an investigation will ensue. For many police departments, it is a matter of manpower and resources. Also, if the suspect of the abuse files a probate court matter, the district attorney’s office will more than likely drop its investigation.

The American Bar Association has not received enough credit for its work in trying to have these cases heard by a judge. The ABA has stressed the need for special units dedicated to elder abuse and training prosecutors on the kinds of crimes committed against the elderly and the particular issues the elderly may present as victims, improving victim aid services, educating the public and professionals, and forming multidisciplinary teams.

A recent study showed that the training of prosecutors is still lacking, only taking cases that they believe will result in conviction and finally, “systemic problems in the interplay between prosecutors, law enforcement, Adult Protective Services, nursing homes, and the roles each is to play.”

Many prosecutors are more concerned about having a winning record rather than seeking justice for the victim. This type of attitude only empowers the perpetrator, ensuring them no accountability.

We need to acknowledge attorneys like Jeff Lewin at http://www.lewinlaw.com and E. Nego Pile at http://www.pilelaw.com, located in the Greater Philadelphia area, for having the compassion to fight for the elderly. Elder Law and Estate attorneys are the unsung heroes of elder abuse.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT REPORTING ELDER ABUSE

I have noticed that my mother’s generation believed in silence. Today’s generation share too much information via social media. It would be wonderful if we were all more forthcoming about reporting elder abuse.

It is estimated that 84% of elder abuse incidents go unreported. Think about it. Eighty-four percent of incidents go unreported. Many view it as a family matter or the classic, “it’s none of my business.” I have news for you. It is all of our business.

Elder abuse is costing taxpayers billions of dollars. In 2012, $2.9 billion was the estimated loss of the elderly as a result of financial fraud.

The reality is that many know of incidents of the mistreatment of the elderly and refuse to report it. I find it irritating when those who witnessed incidents relay details of the incidents after it is too late.

Families keep quiet about it but become proactive when it relates to loss of an inheritance. I can tell you firsthand that the authorities will not invest time in investigating a claim of financial exploitation after the senior has passed. It requires a lot of time investigating and many of the law enforcement officers are not trained in elder abuse investigation, particularly elder financial abuse.The result of not taking action has resulted in loss of homes, cars, and money. A detective serving in the elder abuse unit in Delaware County, Pennsylvania said that it makes his job difficult trying to convince his superiors to pursue a case when the victim is deceased. For a detective who cares, this is frustrating.

There are also social consequences as well. The message that is sent to the younger generation is one that allows tolerance of the mistreatment of the elderly. This should strike fear in the baby boomers who are raising a generation that many feel are probably the most disrespectful, irresponsible and feel a great sense of entitlement.

There are also physical consequences as well. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “for older people, the consequences of abuse can be especially serious because their bones are more brittle and convalescence takes them longer. Even a relatively minor injury can cause serious and permanent damage.”

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.