Elder Laws Every Adult Should Know

Elder abuse concept.

Elder laws are designed to help seniors and their caregivers deal with common issues. This includes items such as health care, finance, and insurance.

Whether you are approaching the age of 65 or care for an elderly loved one, the elder laws governing issues affecting senior citizens may impact you or your family members. Here are some legal policies you should know about.

Rights of Nursing Home Residents

If your loved one lives in an institutional setting, his or her rights remain protected by 1987’s Nursing Home Reform Law. These rights include but are not limited to the right to be free of unnecessary physical or chemical restraints, be involved in one’s own health care, gain access to one’s own records within one business day, be fully aware of charges and fees, maintain privacy, choose how they spend their time, reside with a spouse, and retain personal possessions. Elder laws also provide for a means of resolving nursing home disputes through mediation and legal channels.

Estate Planning

Elder laws are in place to protect the assets of seniors who many need long-term care. These provisions can help ensure that assets go to family members rather than to the cost of nursing home care. An attorney can help you determine how to apply for government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, as well as private companies to help pay for care. He or she can also give legal advice to safely protect the funds and property you’ve amassed over a lifetime from being seized by a nursing home in payment for care. Because these laws can be complex, knowledgeable advice is essential to ensure financial health in the senior years.

Power of Attorney and Guardianship

Though it may be difficult to discuss your wishes for when you are no longer able to care for yourself, having this conversation now can help make a challenging situation easier for the whole family. Elder laws are designed to help people put measures in place that establish which loved ones are responsible for making medical and financial decisions if you become incapacitated. Depending on your state of residence, this could be a conservatorship, guardianship, or another plan that automatically goes into effect at the appropriate time. An attorney can help explain the benefits of these plans.