The MLO Minute: By Jennifer Simons, Esq.
Although every month of the year should be dedicated to protecting and advocating for our elderly population, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (“NAELA”) has designated the month of May as National Elder Law Month. Seeing the impact of the current COVID-19 health crisis on our elderly, especially those in nursing facilities, serves as a reminder of how vulnerable this group of individuals is and how much they need protection.
Elder Law includes many different legal categories, such as protection of the elderly from physical, emotional, financial abuse or neglect. It also involves long-term care planning, retirement planning, Medicaid and Medicare issues, and other issues affecting not only the elderly, but individuals with disabilities. Elder law attorneys also handle guardianship matters, prepare Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives and typical estate planning documents, such as Wills and Trusts. Elder law attorneys not only serve elderly clients, but in many situations also assist and advise family members who are caring for an elderly parent or relative. This can include advising family members on how to apply for and access public benefits on behalf of a parent or loved one, provide guidance when making decisions regarding admittance to nursing facilities or discussing the need for guardianship.
As with other vulnerable groups of people, the elderly need advocates to speak for them when they cannot speak for themselves. During this particular month of May many elderly family members and loved ones are residing in nursing homes, and due to the Coronavirus, have not been able to see or perhaps even speak with their spouses, children or grandchildren. It may be hard for family members to know if their loved ones are ok and being cared for properly, since they cannot visit. One way to help protect a family member in a nursing facility or hospital is to make sure that you call frequently and inquire how your loved one is, so that the facility knows that you are checking in on their well-being. If you have any concerns about a loved one’s care or condition, make sure to report your concerns to the facility and follow up with a Supervisor if your concerns are ignored or not addressed.
Although May is designated as National Elder Law Month, the attorneys at McAndrews, Mehalick, Connolly, Hulse and Ryan, P.C. work hard every day to protect our elderly and disabled clients. If you or a loved one have an elder law issue please call and ask to speak with one of our attorneys.