“She had to live in this bright, red gabled house with the nurse until it was time for her to die… I thought how little we know about the feelings of old people. Children we understand, their fears and hopes and make-believe.” – Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Aging or getting older is a fact of life. It happens to every one of us. The unfortunate, but realistic consequences of aging are that our minds and bodies slow down. We are suspectable to conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Even if we do not contract dementia, there are still dramatic changes to our physical and emotional well-being that is partnered with a reduction in the quality of life. Many of us become dependent on our family members or a third-party to care for us. And, we are unable to make decisions and attend to our affairs as we would like to. Therefore, the questions that must be asked and answered are:
- What does the Elder Law say about the care and comfort of elderly family members?
- Based on this law, what are the younger family members’ and carers’ obligations towards ensuring that a level of care is maintained?
As an aside, it is worth noting that 2017 statistics show that there were 49.2 million people aged 65 and over in the United States. And, these numbers are expected to rise to 56.4 million people in 2020. Thus, mechanisms must be put into place to care for the country’s senior citizens.
And, it is equally essential to note the legal firm EJ Rosen Law specializes in it. Thus, should you need advice on the Elder Law and your aged parents or grandparents, you know whom to contact.
The global pandemic and its relevance to the care of the elderly
The world has changed rapidly and will continue to evolve exponentially as time goes by.
In summary, the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 is racing across the world and devastating the global population as it spreads. Current figures from John Hopkins University, as at 22 April 2020, show that there are over 2.5 million active infections with just under 178 000 deaths.
When distilled, these figures show that the most vulnerable sector of the global population is our senior citizens or those aged 65+. The CDC states that 80% of all COVID-19 deaths in the USA have been adults 65 years and older.
Thus, it is essential to put measures into place timeously, according the edicts of the Elder Law, to protect the elderly from poor treatment, especially during the current global pandemic.
The Elder Law: Taking care of our elderly family members
As we look at ways to ensure that our senior citizens are taken care of according to the Elder Law, let’s consider the following definition:
Wikipedia.com defines the Elder Law as the “area of legal practice that specializes on issues that affect the aging population.”
This law’s fundamental purpose is to “prepare the elderly person for financial freedom and autonomy through proper financial planning and long-term care options.”
At this juncture, it is vital to note that this part of the US constitutional law was developed because people are living longer. Consequently, there is an increased need for care arrangements for the country’s elderly.
Unfortunately, statistics show that one in ten US residents aged 60+ has experienced elder abuse. Ncoa.org quotes figures that show as many as five million senior citizens are abused every year.
There are three components to this law: estate planning, guardianship, and long-term medical care. Let’s consider each one briefly.
Estate planning is defined as the “process of anticipating and arranging, during a person’s life, for the management and disposal of that person’s estate during the person’s life and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation-skipping transfer, and income tax.”
Therefore, should a senior citizen either become incapacitated or pass away, there are specific instructions on how to manage their assets and personal affairs.
The issue of guardianship, when broken down into its core elements merely is appointing a responsible person to take care of and make decisions for, the elderly who are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. The guardian is responsible for the fiduciary administration of the senior citizen’s assets and can make decisions regarding their day-to-day needs.
Long-term medical care
As people age, they often develop long-term mental health and physical health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cancer, arthritis, or osteoporosis. Therefore, they will more than likely need long-term care. Thus, these long-term care arrangements must be decided in advance to prevent last-minute changes in care systems that might result in poor-quality care and end up with the elderly being abused.
The raison d’etre behind the Elder Law is to ensure that senior citizens are treated with the care and concern that they deserve. For, a high standard of living or quality of life is enshrined in the US constitution.