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Maine Center for Elder Law Blog

Thursday, July 21, 2016

So Talk Already! Your Kids Really Do Want to Know


We think it's great that there is so much information out there on the importance of talking with your family about your wishes. Sure, it's daunting to find time to sifting through all the website, blogs, articles, posts and tweets; but the result of all the communication is that we really are increasingly aware of what's important as we age. And awareness is a great step toward dong something about it. So are websites like the conversation project (see our blog post on "the conversation"


Read more . . .


Monday, April 25, 2016

Old MacDonald Had a Farm...


... and on that farm he had some veggies!

Maine Senior FarmShare Program
 
The Maine Senior FarmShare Program entitles eligible seniors to receive a FarmShare, $50 worth, of first-quality, fresh local produce from a Maine farm for a core eight-week period during the growing season.  Seniors sign up directly with a participating farmer each year in April.


Read more . . .


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Conversations: "It's always too soon... until it's too late"

Ellen Goodman, Co-Founder and Director of The Conversation Project, says the primary reason people gave for not talking to their loved ones was "It’s too soon." But it’s always too soon … until it’s too late.

"In some recess of my mind, I still assumed that death came in the way we used to think of as 'natural.' I thought that doctors were the ones who would tell us what needed to be done. I was strangely unprepared, blindsided by the cascading number of decisions that fell to me in her last years. I had to say no to one procedure and yes to another, no to the bone marrow test, yes and yes again to antibiotics. How often I wished I could hear her voice in my ear telling me what she wanted. And what she didn’t want."

Read her New York Times blog post here... maybe it will help start your own conversation.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Time to Re-Think Reverse Mortgages?

It used to be that reverse mortgages were considered the last resort for elderly retirees needing an income stream. Seems things may be changing. One of our local professionals, Sharron Eastman, President of Big Horizon Mortgage Corp., recently shared this Wall Street Journal article written by Wade Pfau.

"Reverse mortgages provide the ability to borrow a portion of your home equity without being required to repay the loan until the owner has permanently left it. The idea for reverse mortgages is that the value of your home is eventually used to repay your loan balance.

To the extent that there ever was much of a conversation about reverse mortgages as a retirement income tool, that conversation typically focused on either real or perceived negatives related to the traditionally high costs and potentially inappropriate uses for these funds. The assumption in financial and retirement planning was that reverse mortgages should only be considered as a last resort, once all other resources and possibilities had failed.

Well, a lot has changed in the past several years, and the result is that reverse mortgages have an undeserved bad reputation."

Read the full article here.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Everything Gets Complicated When a Person has Dementia

An Annals of Internal Medicine paper reports that the money needed to treat dementia in a patient’s final five years is greater than for heart disease and cancer. Take a look at this New York Times article by Gina Kolata.
 
Three diseases, leading killers of Americans, often involve long periods of decline before death. Two of them — heart disease and cancer — usually require expensive drugs, surgeries and hospitalizations. The third, dementia, has no effective treatments to slow its course.

So when a group of researchers asked which of these diseases involved the greatest health care costs in the last five years of life, the answer they found might seem surprising. The most expensive, by far, was dementia.

The study looked at patients on Medicare. The average total cost of care for a person with dementia over those five years was $287,038. For a patient who died of heart disease it was $175,136. For a cancer patient it was $173,383. Medicare paid almost the same amount for patients with each of those diseases — close to $100,000 — but dementia patients had many more expenses that were not covered.

On average, the out-of-pocket cost for a patient with dementia was $61,522 — more than 80 percent higher than the cost for someone with heart disease or cancer. The reason is that dementia patients need caregivers to watch them, help with basic activities like eating, dressing and bathing, and provide constant supervision to make sure they do not wander off or harm themselves. None of those costs were covered by Medicare.

"Everything gets complicated when a person has dementia," noted Dr. Christine K. Cassel, a geriatrician and chief executive of the National Quality Forum.

Maine Center for Elder Law attorneys have helped many seniors and their families with estate planning designed to fit each unique situation. We never know what life will bring our way, but we do know we can plan in advance--for everyone's sake.

Read more of the NYT article here.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Unbefriended: When you Outlive Your Family and Friends

The New York Times has been running an excellent series by columnist Paula Span called "The New Old Age." In a recent piece, Paula wrote about the "unbefriended" (and the term doesn't have anything to do with Facebook). We thought this was an informative article to share on the importance of Advance Health Care Directives. Read on!

Near the End, It's Best to Be 'Friended'

The unconscious man in his 90s was brought to an emergency room where Dr. Douglas White was a critical care physician. The staff couldn’t find any relatives to make medical decisions on his behalf.

“He had outlived all his family,” recalled Dr. White, who now directs an ethics program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “We were unable to locate any friends. We even sent the police to knock on his neighbors’ doors.”

Nobody could find an advance directive, either. In the end, the hospital’s ethics committee had to help guide the medical team to decisions about continuing life support.

Experts describe patients like this one as “unbefriended.” But you can also be unbefriended, even if you do have friends and family, if you are incapacitated and haven’t appointed someone you trust as a health care proxy.

Read the full article here.


Monday, August 24, 2015

On NOTICE: Obama Signs Law Requiring Hospitals to Warn of Costly Medicare Loophole

Many Medicare beneficiaries are being transferred to nursing homes only to find that because they were hospital outpatients all along, they must pick up the tab for the subsequent nursing home stay -- Medicare will pay none of it. 

The new law, the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act, does not eliminate the practice of placing patients under “observation” for extended periods, but it does require hospitals to notify patients who are under observation for more than 24 hours of their outpatient status within 36 hours, or upon discharge if that occurs sooner. Read more.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

SAGE Advice: Support and Advocacy for Gay Elders

Maine Center for Elder Law associate attorney Britton Ryan Garon is a self-described "younger, straight ally" for SAGE (Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders). She is also a board member of SAGE Maine, which was founded in 2013.

Garon was recently interviewed for an article in The Village. "No one wants to speak about aging in this country period, let alone the issues facing the LGBT community. Death and dying are swept under the rug. The less it is acknowledged, the harder it is to put plans in place."

Read the full article written by Faith Gilman.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Get A Leg Up On Tom Brokaw

Did you happen to see the TED Talk in which Tom Brokaw had a conversation with his daughter, Jennifer? During the talk, Tom admitted that unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about my living will. In factI’m not even sure where it is at this point.”

You can click here to watch the video. I set up the link to jump right to the spot, but I encourage you to watch the entire video. It’s only about 20 minutes long and well worth the time.

It’s always nice to see that celebrities are real people with real problems, and Tom’s case raises a few important questions.

  • Does your living will still reflect your wishes? There are many reasons why you may want to update your living will and/or healthcare power of attorney: Has your relationship with your family changed? Is your agent still able and willing to act on your behalf? Has your health changed? Have your beliefs changed? Have you moved? 

  • Have you discussed your wishes with your family? What you want and don't want?

  • Do you know where you living will is? Tom Brokaw admits he doesn’t know where his living will is. This is a common problem, which is why we encourage our clients  to sign up for DocuBank. A DocuBank Emergency Card lets you and your doctor access your living will & other emergency info immediately when needed. It’s like you have your documents right in your pocket!

We want to make sure that you stay ahead of Tom Brokaw!  It’s important that your living will and advance directives reflect your true wishes, and that you and your family know where they are and can access them when they’re needed.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Caregiving Changes Focus of Practice for Britton Garon

How does a new lawyer poised to begin a career in criminal prosecution make the change to Elder Law? Providing end-of-life care for her mother and grandmother changed Maine Center for Elder Law attorney Britton Garon's focus. "I very clearly realized that I wanted to help people prevent all of the devastating things that can happen during an illness or at the end of life."  

Personal Experience Leads to Career in Elder Law


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For Love's Sake

91-year-old Real L'Heureux broke out of the dementia care facility he resides in to be with his girlfriend.

Maine Center for Elder Law attorney Barbara Schlichtman was interviewed for this recent Portland Press Herald story written by staff writer Matt Byrne. The story is a bittersweet one of aging, love and decision-making. The article brings up many important issues families have to consider when faced with a decline in a loved one's abilities. Senior's Daring Escape Raises Troubling Question.


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The Maine Center for Elder Law, LLC, assists clients with Medicaid (MaineCare) Planning, Planning for VA Aid and Attendance Eligibility, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning, and Probate, Estate & Trust Administration matters in York County, Cumberland County and nearby Maine counties.



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