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Nursing home abuse rampant in low-ranking facilities

It is not uncommon for older people in Florida to live in a nursing home when that becomes the best option for their health care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse happens all too often to elderly residents who may not have the ability to communicate what is happening to them. Yet, there are ways that a family can reduce the likelihood of abuse happening to their loved one. This is evident after a report from out of state concluded that nursing home facilities with low ratings from Medicare also had the highest number of health-related citations.

The report was generated by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. It compiled data after conducting inspections of nursing home facilities. The report revealed that two nursing homes had a high number of fines for patient injuries with 74 citations apiece. USCMM ranked both facilities as being "much below average." Other facilities with a high number of citations also fell into that same category.

Paralyzed soldier denied claim for veterans' benefits

Those who serve in the armed forces here in Florida and elsewhere deserve the gratitude of every citizen. When they are unable to care for themselves, veterans' benefits can ease the financial burden of having to pay for their own care. These benefits have to be handled carefully, however, as they can impact a person's estate plan and what they leave behind for their loved ones. One retired soldier is grappling with that exact issue after her claim for veterans' benefits was denied.

The woman was serving in another state when she started experiencing symptoms such as headaches and blurred vision. An MRI revealed she had a deformity that caused her skull to push down on her cerebellum and, in turn, her spinal column. Her family says that the surgery to fix it resulted in dislocation of her neck, a stroke and partial paralysis. Because she was treated at military hospital, she cannot file a medical malpractice claim, which is what she could have done if she was a civilian.

What you need to know about DNRs and hospice care

If you have an aging mother or father, you have probably thought a considerable amount about end-of-life care. When helping your loved one with estate planning, it is a good idea to think about drafting a living will

A medical power of attorney is an important part of any advance directive. With one, your loved one designates someone to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in certain circumstances. Also, you likely want to encourage your loved one to think about resuscitation if the lungs or heart stop working. You should know, though, how a do-not-resuscitate order affects hospice care. 

Where is the best place to keep documents for estate planning?

Thinking about planning for one's estate can be difficult for some people. They may not want to consider the end of their lives or other unpleasant thoughts such as them becoming incapacitated. However, it is important to have a will and other end-of-life documentation created so that a person can ensure that his or her wishes are carried out. For those here in Florida who have taken the necessary estate planning measures, they might wonder where the best place is to keep their documents safe. Experts have some recommendations.

First, most attorneys will keep original estate plan documents safe in a vault or locked file cabinet belonging to their firm. Some even use offsite storage that is easily accessible. However, some firms have to turn these documents over to their owners for safe keeping, either because the owner requests it or because the firm doesn't have a place to store them. The owner can purchase his or her own fireproof safe or file cabinet to keep the documents safe until they are needed.

Elder abuse: Should families put web cams in nursing homes?

It is a sad truth that older people here in Florida and around the country can be particularly vulnerable to abuse. They often don't have the same mental and cognitive abilities as they did when they were younger, so they may have difficulty communicating mistreatment or understanding that abuse is occurring. Some families have decided to take matters into their own hands and have installed web cams in the nursing home rooms of their older relatives to monitor their treatment. Some worry that this could be an invasion of privacy, but others say they only want to protect their loved ones from elder abuse.

Several states have laws that expressly allow families to install cameras in nursing home rooms, but Florida is not one of them. Some experts say that beyond protecting older people, the cameras can also serve as an invasion of privacy, since many residents may need to change clothes, use the bathroom or conduct other private activities in front of the camera. Many elderly people may not be able to properly consent to being recorded, due to dementia or other cognitive disorders. Some reports suggest that children of older parents may not ask for the parent's consent even if he or she is capable of giving it.

Guardianships: Professional guardian accused of breaking the law

Many families across Florida have loved ones who need special care. They might be older and unable to fully care for themselves or make their own medical decisions, so the best solution might be to appoint someone to be that person's guardian. Guardianships can be set up using a family member or trusted family friend, or even with someone who provides this service professionally. Though most professional guardians handle their role responsibly, there are times when that is not the case. One woman who works as a professional guardian was recently accused of providing improper care and the legal system is now working to determine if she broke the law.

The woman is accused of filing a "do not resuscitate" order for a client who had not requested one. A "DNR" means that if a person is under medical care, he or she will not receive CPR if his or her heart stops. The family of one of the woman's clients say that they did not know the woman had filed this order with the hospital where the client was receiving medical treatment.

Medicaid planning: Lyft allowed to transport Medicaid recipients

The increased care needs of senior citizens are something that many families have to deal with. It can be difficult to ensure that older people's needs are properly met. Careful consideration of Medicaid planning can mean a huge difference for elders who may not be able to take care of themselves the way that they used to do. Fortunately, there are also modern solutions for these problems. Florida recently passed a law that will allow the rideshare company Lyft to provide Medicaid beneficiaries with transportation.

Lyft will now be allowed to provide nonemergency transportation to Medicaid recipients. Since seniors are frequently in need of transpiration, but not always able to drive themselves, this measure will make a significant difference in their ability to access needed medical care. Senator Jeff Brandes, who sponsored the bill, hopes that it will provide a lower-cost option those who have difficulty paying for both transportation and health care.

Understanding the Federal Gift Tax Annual Exclusion for 2019

Everyone needs to consider how much to leave to their heirs after passing away. Although it seems like a simple transfer of assets, estate planning becomes complicated quickly. There exists a gift tax placed on the transfer of property or money to another person by which the giver receives nothing in return. 

There are exclusions to this rule. You can give up to a certain amount to a loved one and not have to pay taxes on it. A lot of people will not have to worry about paying such taxes unless they plan on giving away an extraordinary amount of money. However, so you stay on the right side of the law, it helps immensely to familiarize yourself with tax annual exclusions

Estate planning: States weighing public options for senior care

As people age, their health care needs often increase, through no fault of their own. Some of those people must move into a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Some states around the country are attempting to create programs that would allow senior citizens to continue to live in their own homes. The thought is that by doing so, states will save money in the long term, by reducing claims made on Medicaid. Florida seniors may want to pay attention to these efforts as a similar program here could have a significant impact on estate planning.

One state has approved a new payroll tax that will fund a benefit program to provide people with in-home health care and other forms of assistance. Another state is employing a similar program, but it will provide weekly benefits, rather than a lump sum, to those who have family caregivers working at least 30 hours outside the home every week. Many other state legislatures are similarly concerned about the care of older Americans, since there will be 98 million adults older than 65 by 2050, double the current number.

Stan Lee's former business manager charged with elder abuse

Older generations have a great deal to teach those who are younger. However, they are also susceptible to abuse from those around them since they often experience changes in their mental and physical abilities due to age. It is imperative that senior citizens here in Florida are protected by a thorough estate plan, including directives for handling medical and end-of-life care. Recently, the business manager for the late Marvel Comics creator, Stan Lee, has been accused of elder abuse. Authorities allege that the manager stole money from Lee and kept him from seeing his family against his will.

Prosecutors charged Lee's former business manager with five counts of elder abuse, alleging theft and false imprisonment of an elder adult along with other charges. They claim that the manager took more than $262,000 from several autograph-signing sessions that Lee conducted back in 2018. They also say that the manager moved Lee into a condominium out of his home in Hollywood in order to have more control and influence over him.

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