When you are preparing for retirement and beyond, considering how you will pay for long-term care should be an important part of your overall plan. Yet, too often people neglect to provide for long-term care and find themselves having to either self-insure or spend down their assets to qualify for Medicaid. This piece from NPR highlights some of the pitfalls. [Read more…]
Many people incorrectly believe that once seniors enter a nursing home, their freedom is over. In fact, nursing home residents have many rights, and it is important to know those rights and to be able to enforce them.
Nursing home residents’ rights are protected under federal law. In broad terms, nursing homes are required to ensure that every resident be given whatever services are necessary to function at the highest level possible. Here are some of the specific protections that residents have:
- Residents have a right to privacy in all aspects of their care. This means that phone calls and mail should be private, and residents should be able to close doors and windows.
- Residents may bring belongings from home, and nursing home staff members are required to assist residents in protecting those belongings.
- Residents have the right to go to bed and get up when they choose, eat a variety of snacks outside meal times, decide what to wear, choose activities, and decide how to spend their time. The nursing home must offer a choice at main meals, because individual tastes and needs vary.
- Residents have the right to leave the nursing home and belong to any church or social group they choose.
- Residents must be allowed to participate in planning their care.
- Residents have a right to manage their own financial affairs.
- Residents may not be moved to a different room, a different nursing home, a hospital, back home, or anywhere else without advance notice and an opportunity for appeal.
If a disagreement with the nursing home does arise, there are a number of steps you can take to enforce the resident’s rights. The first step is to talk to the nursing home staff directly. This may be all it takes to solve the problem. If that doesn’t work, then you may need to talk to a supervisor or administrator.
If you’re still unable to resolve the issue, the next step is to contact the ombudsperson assigned to the nursing home. He or she may be able to intervene and get an appropriate result. You can find contact information for the Ombudsman Program in your state at: www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman.
Additional steps include reporting the nursing home to its licensing agency and hiring a geriatric care manager to intervene. If the direct approach isn’t working, you may need to hire a lawyer to resolve the issue. The last resort is to move the resident to a different facility.
If you feel that your or a family member in a nursing home’s rights have been infringed upon, contact Attorney Kristina Vickstrom today at 508-757-3800.
[photo credit: NursingHomesAbuseBlog.com]
When we typically think of estate planning, we see grandma and grandpa putting together a Will and possibly setting up some trusts for the following generations. It’s all about providing for our offspring, right? [Read more…]
The limited number of subsidized Assisted Living slots has made Rest Homes a viable alternative for many physically and mentally impaired elders in Massachusetts. The care in a Rest Home is greater than that of an Assisted Living facility, but not as encompassing as traditional Nursing Home care. Although Rest Homes are less expensive than Nursing Home care, they are not a long term solution for many families. If financial planning begins early, Emergency Aid to Elders, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) may be an alternative to help you or a loved one cover the costs of continued Rest Home care. [Read more…]
With the decline of the traditional nuclear family, individuals over 50 are increasingly vested with responsibility for the caretaking of young children and adolescents. Financial problems are the primary cause of seniors having to assume more “traditional” child-rearing duties. Whether due to a divorce, military service, substance abuse, mental illness or other secondary issues, some adults may be unable or simply unwilling to be good parents themselves. [Read more…]
Medicaid, or MassHealth as it is referred to in Massachusetts, is an avenue available for funding long-term nursing home care. To qualify, you must meet asset thresholds that many elders exceed. Additionally there are income requirements for MassHealth/Mediciad. Adequate understanding of MassHealth/Medicaid law and proper strategizing is a critical component of any plan for the future. With the proper planning of an elder-law attorney, you can protect your property, spouse, and assets. [Read more…]
The issue of hoarding has recently gathered a great deal of attention, particularly due to news reports and popular television shows. However, hoarding is not a new or a small problem. The problem of hoarding has been documented since the turn of the century and is thought to significantly affect nearly 15 million Americans, many of them elderly. A great article recently appeared in the Boston Herald dealing with the clinical aspects of Hoarding. Unfortunately, research has been lacking in this area – until now. [Read more…]
There are several websites that offer customized, do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents. These computer-based services appear to offer the consumer a cost-effective and convenient alternative to visiting an Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney. Or do they? Is online estate planning worth the convenience and initial savings? How do the documents created compare to those that a qualified attorney would produce? [Read more…]
On February 23, 2010, the US Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts finally did what the Massachusetts state legislature has been unable to do for years: the court ruled that the Massachusetts Homestead Exemption is applicable to an owner whose property is in a revocable trust. Since this decision, In re Rodrigues, Bankr. D. Mass. Case No. 09-11960-JNF, the legislature has been working to pass a new statute that will replace Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 188, the statute concerning homesteads. The legislature is very close to passing a new law. Today we will review the Rodrigues decision, the pending Massachusetts legislation, and how it may be beneficial to you. [Read more…]
Some people think that Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys are only useful further down the road. They think, “I’m healthy. I don’t need to worry about those things now.” Even while you are healthy, there is one document that everyone over the age of 18 should have in place: a Health Care Proxy (HCP). A health care proxy is necessary to ensure that someone, a health care agent, will be available to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them on your own because you are incapacitated. Currently, in Worcester County, another form is also worth considering: the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form. This medical order works with the HCP to inform your health care agent and your doctors what you actually want to happen in various circumstances. [Read more…]