Elder Care

Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of elder care and financing.

What is Elder Law?
The Basics of Probate
The Hardest Challenge: Getting A Family Member To Accept Help
The Caregiver's Dilemma: Financing Care for Your Aging Parents
Assisted Living
Elder Abuse
Related Issues:  
Seniors, Senior Health
Journal on Elder Abuse


What is Elder Law?

Many families face an uphill climb when it comes to making sense of an elderly relative's legal and financial situation. In such instances, enlisting the services of an elder law attorney can be a good idea, because these lawyers deal almost exclusively with advance medical directives, elder abuse and fraud, insurance, and other topics specifically relating to seniors and caregivers. Elder law attorneys have a greater understanding of the specific issues and limitations that seniors-and their families-face every day.

Elder law attorneys specialize in a variety of areas, including:

To find an elder law attorney, try contacting one of the following organizations:

When interviewing an elder law attorney, be sure to ask if he or she is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NELF). The CELA certification given by the NELF shows that the attorney has been practicing in the area of elder law for at least five years and maintains an in-depth, working knowledge of elder law. The certification is given only after a comprehensive exam and is not held by many lawyers nationwide. (It should also be noted, however, that the states of Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio do not recognize any certificates, including the CELA.)

Source: Copyright 2001 FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For more caregiving information, please visit www.FamilyCareAmerica.com

The Basics of Probate

Caregivers facing end-of-life situations seldom stop to think about what will happen after the death of a loved one. After a person dies, friends and family members are often responsible for dealing with a variety of difficult issues including finalizing funeral arrangements, notifying insurance agencies and other concerned parties, and overseeing the probate process.

Probate is a legal procedure that finalizes an individual's affairs after his or her death. It includes:

Distributing property according to the provisions set forth in the will. The executor-or an attorney and the executor-can handle the paperwork and court appearances included in probate. Most individuals choose the latter, as probate attorneys make the entire process much simpler. Probate attorneys can be expensive, however, because they often charge a percentage of the overall estate. If you wish to avoid additional estate costs, try to find an attorney who will work for less than the normal fee, or find an executor's handbook that can help you complete the process without an attorney.

Generally, the probate process occurs as follows:

During the year it takes for probate to conclude, the executor or representative manages the deceased's assets.

Some property passes through probate, including a simple transfer of property to a surviving spouse, and any property held in joint tenancy or a living trust.

As a caregiver you should find out as much as you can about your loved one's estate-and the probate process-before the need to administer a will arises.

The death of a loved one is emotionally and physically draining, and the more prepared you are, the easier it will be for all friends and family members involved.

Source: Copyright 2001 FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For more caregiving information, please visit www.FamilyCareAmerica.com

The Caregiver's Dilemma: Financing Care for Your Aging Parent

Many middle-aged people are faced with converging financial concerns; children in college or planning a wedding, a critical need to save for retirement, increasing medical bills, and providing assistance to aging parents.

Some people, usually women, have had to quit or modify their employment to care for an aging parent. A recent study shows that caregivers of elderly relatives lose upwards of $659,000 over a lifetime in lost wages, retirement income, Social Security and pension benefits heller.brandeis.edu/national/metpress.htm

Long-term care insurance policies are expensive, with a $2500 year average cost of premiums for a 65-year-old. In addition, employer provided health insurance that carries over into retirement is becoming a thing of the past.

Most parents to not want to become a burden to their children. A friend in his 80s confided in me his concern that he had outlived his annuities and did not want to let his children know.

Another friend is worried about the financial health of her mother who is a few years away from 62 and Social Security and no longer employed. Personally, I am blessed with a mother and mother-in-law who have planned well for their later years.

One of my mother's favorite sayings is "I can think of nothing worse than being poor and an older woman." Or to quote Sophie Tucker: "From birth to 18 a girl needs good parents. From 18 to 35, she needs good looks. From 35 to 55, good personality. From 55 on, she needs good cash. I'm saving my money."

After researching this column, I have become much more aware that careful planning is the key to a healthy financial future. I am by no means a financial planner, but I can guide you to information that may help you preserve assets and help you enjoy a happy later life

HealthCentral.com HealthCentral has good coverage in this area, mainly in the News section of the Topic Centers. Check out the Senior Health Topic Center, Caregiving Topic Center, and the Health Insurance Topic Center. There's also a good news article that was recently published: "Informal caregivers save $200 billion."

Good search terms to use while searching through HealthCentral.com are "long-term care insurance", "Medicare," "Medicaid," "caregiving," "caregiver," "nursing homes" and "assisted living."

Good Sites. I selected the most comprehensive or unique sites that included good links so that you can do your own exploring.


AARP at www.aarp.org This is the first place I went to for a introduction to the topic and I was not disappointed. The site has excellent well-written information on a wealth of subjects. The appropriate areas to check are health/wellness, life transitions/independent living, and money/work. The financial planning, Medicare, health insurance options and caregiving sections are especially helpful.

American Health Care Association at www.ahca.org/info/informat.htm is a federation of organizations of long-term care providers. The site offers good consumer information on how to select the proper level of care, how to finance a nursing facility, myths and realities of living in a nursing facility, what consumers need to know about private long-term care insurance, etc.

Federal Government

Medicare at www.medicare.gov/ The official U.S. government site for Medicare information. Covers eligibility and enrollment, coverage and billing, fraud and abuse, Medigap compare, the top 20 Medicare/Medicaid questions, contacts, publications, etc. As I have mentioned before, overall the U.S. government creates excellent sites with abundant helpful information. And it is always best to go right to the primary source.

For Medicare information in Chinese go to www.medicare.gov/asian.html for Spanish go to www.medicare.gov/spanish.html

National Cancer Institute. Financial Assistance for Cancer Care at hcancernet.nci.nih.gov/cgi- bin/srchcgi.exe?TYPE=search&ZUI=600083&DBID=pdq&SFMT=pdq_statement/1/0/0 A guide to governmental and voluntary organizations that may offer financial assistance to those with cancer. Spanish language resources indicated.

U.S. Department of Labor. "Can the Retiree Health Benefits Provided By Your Employer Be Cut?" www2.dol.gov/dol/pwba/public/pubs/brief1.htm A concise one-page article explaining what you should know and what you should look for in your plan's documents.

Federal Trade Commission. "Viatical Settlements" at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/services/viatical.htm Viatical settlements involve the sale of a life insurance policy by someone who is terminally ill for a lump sum cash payment. This one page article provides help in evaluating options, explains eligibility and offers links for further information.


CareGuide at www.careguide.com A good, comprehensive elder care site that covers finding care, paying for care, legal planning, daily living. It has a tool box with such tests as: How much do you know about trusts, wills and your estate? Can you afford long-term care? Includes a long-term care insurance checklist. The two Q and A columns are very helpful.

Eldercare Online at ec-online.net An online community for people caring for aged loved ones. Good coverage of home care and independent living, insurance coverage, legal and financial matters.

Loving Care at www.lovingcare.net/ Award-winning comprehensive resources for seniors and their families with helpful information about retirement planning, including the financial aspects.

Elderweb at www.elderweb.com This is an award-winning site published by a CPA who was searching online for resources on elderly care. She decided to produce her own as a labor of love. This site has information on elder care and long-term care with an extensive directory of online resources including financial and legal and housing concerns.


National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys at www.naela.com/ Although designed primarily for attorneys, sections of this site are helpful for the consumer, particularly the excellent annotated list of elder law resources and the consumer directory of attorneys practicing elder law.

Medicare Rights Organization at www.medicarerights.org/ A national non-profit organization helping to ensure older adults and those with disabilities get good affordable health care. It has a very helpful systematic Medicare basics guide and a particularly good tips on understanding Medicare HMOs.

Nolo.com Law for All. Elder Care. Good articles, questions and answers on elder care finance, legal encyclopedia. Includes financial calculators. Annotated list of Nolo Press' best selling books at www.nolo.com/category/oa_home.html


There are many books on this subject; I have selected just a few based on reviews from reputable sources.

Loverde, Joy. The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Which Questions to Ask, and how to Find Help. New York: Random House, 2000. 2nd ed. A well-reviewed book covering such topics as money matters, insurance, legal matters, etc. Includes a Document Locator for finding critical papers.

Martin, Kathryn. Believe or Not, Mama Likes Being in a Nursing Home. Kansas City: Bean Hill Press, 1997. Believe it or not, this book has a humorous approach to nursing homes.

Morris, Virginia. How to Care for Aging Parents.Workman Publishing Company, 1996. Winner of the Books for Better Life Award. Featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN, CBS and other national programs. This is a book that tackles all the tough subjects.

Pollen, Stephen. Die Broke: a Radical, Four-part Financial Plan. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. A best seller with a different approach. I read this provocative book a few years ago, learned a lot, but haven't followed it's premise: Quit Today, Pay Cash, Don't Retire, and Die Broke.

Warner, Ralph. Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire. Berkeley: Nolo Press, 1998. If you are tired of hearing about how Social Security won't be around much longer and that you will need at one million dollars to retire, read this book.

Yolles, Ronald M. and Murray. You're Retired, Now What? Money Skills for a Comfortable Retirement. New York: John Wiley, 1998. Solid advice for managing money during retirement, including getting the most from your 401Ks and IRAs. www.healthcentral.com/Columnists/ColumnistsFullText.cfm?ID=31797&storytype=Column_Schmalz

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