A New Yorker article entitled “How the Elderly Lose Their Rights” highlights the plight that many elderly people face in our country. When Rudy and Rennie North were taken from their home and institutionalized against their will, without even the consent of their only living daughter, they learned the cold hard truth: the system is stacked against seniors.
Cases like these may seem like isolated occurrences, but as the article points out, an estimated 10% of people over 65 have been the victims of abuse. And the problem is not isolated to a few states – it is rampant all across America.
How Can This Happen?
Using laws that were originally intended to protect senior citizens from exactly this kind of abuse, unscrupulous agents swoop in and petition the court to appoint them as the legal guardians of these seniors. The agents then proceed to isolate their wards from friends and family. They sell off the seniors’ assets and pocket most of the money for themselves, leaving their wards penniless and completely at their mercy.
As frightening as this sounds, there is some good news. It’s possible to take actions that will protect you (or your elderly loved ones) from becoming victims of unethical guardians. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) runs a website that aims to educate citizens on how to plan for future long-term care.
Long-Term Things to Consider
According to statistics listed on the site, of the 10 million people who require long-term care in the United States, 6 million are over the age of 65. Of course, it’s best to start planning before you hit 65! The DHS advises everyone to educate themselves on issues surrounding long-term care, including:
- Health insurance and Medicare
- The costs associated with long-term care
- How the layout of a home could affect an elderly person
- Documenting all property and financial assets
- Having an up-to-date will
- Having an advance healthcare directive
An advance care directive is a document that lays out in advance how you want important health decisions made for you, and who you want appointed as your guardian in the event that you are no longer capable of caring for yourself. It helps inform your loved ones what your wishes are before it becomes too late.
If you are concerned about maintaining your independence, or how best to approach your end-of-life decisions, you need the help of an experienced Pennsylvania elder law attorney. Trying to prepare for your future can seem overwhelming, but the experienced and thoughtful legal team at Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC can walk you through the process of making a life care plan. Call us today at (570) 784-5211 to schedule a free consultation.