As Americans live increasingly lengthier lives, many require continuing, long-term care. Seniors have a distinctive type of health care, home care, and financial needs that becomes more complex as they age. It is imperative to learn about caregiving and manage appropriate living arrangements for your elderly parents, friends, or other family members.

It is also essential to determine what your elderly parent, friend, or family member may need. Figuring out living arrangements, health care necessities, and financial needs early on places you and them in a better position when the time comes.

To decide what types of care your elder relative or friend may require, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of elder care does my relative need now, and is that care likely to increase or change?
  • Would assisted living and elderly care be appropriate for my relative?
  • Does my relative have a mental or medical condition requiring constant special care or housing?
  • Would my relative be comfortable being cared for at a nursing home or by a skilled nurse or health care professional?

Elder Law

Elder law is a legal practice that emphasizes issues that affect the growing aging population, such as long-term care, nursing home issues, medical directives, and senior assistance.

What Is the History of Elder Law?

Elder law developed because lifespans are increasing. Elder laws arose out of an increased need for medical care, caregiving, and financial managing for the elderly.

The Older Americans Act (AAA) was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Medicare was created that year, as well. The Act created the Administration on Aging (AOA). The AOA is a division within the Department of Health and Human Services. The OAA also provides grants to states for community planning and service programs. The state grants also provide funding for research and training projects related to aging.

In 1972, the OAA was amended to add a national nutrition program for the elderly. The OAA was amended again in 2000 to include the National Family Caregiver Support Program. The program was intended to help hundreds of thousands of family members who struggle to care for their older, ill, or disabled loved ones. The program provides state and local agencies funding for counseling, support groups, respite, and other services. The services are focused on caring for frail and aging members of society. The program provides services geared towards the family units of grandparents and other relatives now in the stages of caretaking for children 18 or older.

Elder law expands on traditional estates and trusts law.

What Are the Careers in or Associated With Elder Law?

Careers developing around the area of elder law include:

  • Social workers
  • Lawyers
  • Paralegals
  • Legal assistants
  • Legal secretaries
  • Guardians ad litem
  • Psychologists
  • Caregivers
  • Financial advisors
  • Policymakers
  • Legal advocates
  • Benefit specialists
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Attorney General’s Office
  • Consumer Protection Agency
  • Political groups
  • Health care providers
  • Researchers
  • Funeral planners
  • Grief counselors
  • Caseworkers
  • Abuse and fraud investigators
  • Teachers
  • Product developers
  • Transportation providers
  • Entertainment and tour guides
  • Real estate agents
  • Mortgage brokers
  • Insurance providers
  • Elder companions

Almost all careers can benefit the aging group in modern society.

Nursing Homes

Numerous federal and state laws protect nursing homes and assisted living facility patients from neglect and abuse. These laws also protect the privacy, security, and health of the facility patients.

Social Security

Social Security affects the life of almost every American. It is the foundation of economic security for many retirees. Having a firm understanding and knowledge of Social Security benefits is crucial.

Medical & Health Planning

Several medical and healthcare laws exist to protect the elderly exclusively. The elderly are often the most vulnerable to healthcare and medical rights violations. Many of these laws deal with Medicaid, a government assistance program that provides health insurance to millions of low-income and disabled senior citizens.

How Do Elder Law Attorneys Bill for Their Services?

Elder law attorneys typically charge by the hour based on the type of work. Elder law attorneys may charge a predetermined flat rate for reviewing and signing documents, filing tax returns, and preparing wills.

What Should I Ask an Elder Law Attorney?

Elder law attorneys advocate for the elderly and their loved ones. Most elder law attorneys handle a wide variety of legal matters affecting older or disabled people. These issues may relate to healthcare, long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other important issues.

Elder law attorneys focus on the needs of older adults, which are often more specialized than the needs of younger adults. Elder law attorneys handle important financial and estate planning matters. They also take care of day-to-day issues affecting the care of seniors, including assisted living and life planning.

Elder law attorneys are equipped to handle the emotional and physical needs of older or disabled adults.

Most elder law attorneys do not specialize in every area of law. It is important to hire an attorney who has experience in your particular area of concern. Before hiring an elder law attorney, you should feel comfortable that they will skillfully represent you.

Consider asking your attorney:

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • What percentage of your practice is devoted to elder law?
  • Do you specialize in a certain area within elder law?
  • What information should I prepare for our first meeting?
  • What are your fees?

Do I Need an Attorney for My Elder Care Issue?

Suppose you have a family member, friend, or relative that requires elder care or will need it soon. In that case, you should speak with a qualified family lawyer in your area to make arrangements while protecting the person’s rights and interests. If you have other elder care issues, speaking with an attorney may help you understand your options and possible solutions.

An elder law attorney can discuss the importance of wills and estate planning with you. Estate planning may include planning for an adult or minor with special needs. Elder law attorneys can also discuss probate proceedings with you. Your attorney will create a durable power of attorney document and help with health care planning and long-term care options. Your lawyer will also inform you about patient rights, Medicare, and health care power of attorney.

If you have issues with financial representation, financial planning, housing opportunities, or income, estate, and gift tax matters, use LegalMatch’s services to find a lawyer in your area. A lawyer can help select and appoint a legal guardian, locate long-term care facilities, and manage assisted living costs. You will want to know about nursing home resident rights and what you need to file a nursing home claim.

Drafting a living will or other advance directives, including a power of attorney and long-term planning documents, can be trusted with an estate or family lawyer. Use LegalMatch’s services today to find a lawyer near you.