Thursday, August 29, 2013

Senior Citizens- Avoid Getting Scammed

Agencies tracking Americans older than 65 and baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) agree that scams aimed at seniors are on the rise. However, exact numbers are hard to come by because of underreporting.

The few statistics available show seniors are disproportionally affected by financial scams. About 20% of Americans older than 65 — about 7.3 million people — were estimated to have been financially taken advantage of last year, according to survey data.

Investment schemers, fraudulent telemarketers, false charities or lotteries, and people posing as relatives through email or phone are just a few of the ways elders can be scammed.

Though seniors are not inherently more susceptible to these types of crimes — the Federal Trade Commission reported that the most consumer fraud complaints last year came from seniors and baby boomers. This is because certain assumptions are made by scammers about their older victims, according to Virginia TRIAD, a crime prevention partnership between seniors and law enforcement. These assumptions can include that seniors have money from life savings or other assets, that they are at home and willing to talk, or that they are hard of hearing and less able to distinguish voices.

The following are warning signs to look out for of elder fraud schemes, from Virginia TRIAD:

  • "Free" gifts that require you to pay shipping and handling fees, redemption fees or gift taxes before delivery
  • High profit, no-risk" investments
  • "Act now" and other high pressure sales tactics
  • A request for a credit card number for identification purposes or to verify that you have won a prize
  • Refusal to provide written information or even the most basic details about an organization 
  • Organizations that are unfamiliar or have only a post office box for an address

 Often, victims of scams are too embarrassed by being "taken" to report their losses. It is still important to report scams because con artists can continue to operate them if their crimes remain unreported. Consumers who receive questionable offers or have concerns about offers that appear to be official or have governmental ties, are encouraged to contact the Better Business Bureau at 1-800-646-6222, or to bring it to your local police station.

We hope you are never the victim of a scam and that your hard earned assets are protected in a safe and ethical manner. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call The Fairfax Elder Law and Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shortage of Caregivers will Affect Baby Boomers in the Future

More than two-thirds of Americans believe they will be able to rely on their families to meet their long-term care needs. According to a recent AARP study, however, if you are a baby boomer, even though you may be supporting your own elderly parents, the chances of someone being there for you are numerically diminished.

The study, “The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap,” determined that two decades from now, there will be far fewer caregivers available and more need for them. In fact, the ratio of potential caregivers to boomers needing care will sink from 7.2 to 1 in 2010 to 2.9 to 1 by 2050, according to the study.

The problem, as researchers have defined it, stems from a combination of factors, including the large number of baby boomers and the fact that boomers had relatively fewer children than earlier generations. Women in particular will be affected, because they typically live longer, but men have been catching up, the report said. The high rate of divorce among baby boomers, and the fact that one in three is unmarried, exacerbates the problem, combined with rising levels of obesity even as longevity increases.

There are currently 42.1 million adults in the United States caring for friends or family members. Nearly two-thirds of those caregivers are women, and more than 80 percent of the people they care for are over 50. Unpaid care in recent years was estimated to be worth the equivalent of $450 billion in 2009, more than the cost of Medicaid and approaching the cost of Medicare. To make up for this, the country needs policies that will provide for better support for caregivers and more affordable options for home care, the report said. A federal commission on long-term care is expected to come up with recommendations this fall.

Given the trends described in the report, it is now more important than ever to plan for your future and for your loved ones. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call The Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pets in Assisted Living Communities Shown to Boost Seniors' Health

In some assisted living communities, dogs and cats can accompany their owners, and sometimes there are pets in assisted living communities (and in nursing homes) that are owned by the facility and enjoyed by the residents. A growing consensus among assisted living residents and staff alike is that pets bring health, connection, and a sense of home.

Not every assisted living community has a pet program. They're growing in popularity at a rapid rate, and for good reason. Studies show that when seniors interact with pets, depression and loneliness decrease while socialization and conversation rise. Part of the reason is that pets are not judgmental and they don't see age or disability. In addition to offering unconditional love, lowering blood pressure, helping fight depression and loneliness, and easing loss, pets in assisted living communities keep seniors active.

Consider these statistics from the Pets for the Elderly Foundation:

• 95% of seniors talk to their pet or a visiting pet
• 82% say pets help when they feel sad
• 71% say pets make them feel better when they feel physically bad
• 65% say touching a pet soothes them
• 57% confide in a pet

"Taking care of a pet is a way to engage residents," says Paul Kelley, senior director of Operations for Sunrise Senior Living. "Many stay active by filling water bowls and taking trips to a pet store for treats. Sharing care can also be a bonding opportunity for residents and staff alike. And for residents who are used to being cared for, it's a nice change for them to step into a caregiver role as they become responsible for an animal's well-being."

It has also been shown that pets are good for Alzheimer’s patients. They, too, need to belong, love and be accepted. Pets give unconditional love. Alzheimer’s patients say the most incredible things in the presence of a pet.

There are common challenges with animals in any community living situation, however, including allergies or just a lack of affinity for dogs or cats. Whatever the potential challenges, the upsides seem to far outweigh the downsides. For some residents, time with their own pet, daily rounds from a community dog or cat, or weekly therapy visits can be the highlight of their day.

Do you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care? Whether you are looking for a facility that allows pets or not, if you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), now is the time. Please call The Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation. While you are here, you will have the opportunity to meet our delightful Siamese cats, bunny, Betta fish, African dwarf frogs, and dog!

P.S. Don’t forget about your pet! Read our recent post about Pet Trusts and be sure to include them in your planning. In addition, be sure to sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to read "Critter Corner" each Friday, where our pets answer elder law and estate planning questions.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Estate Planning: These Billionaires will NOT be Leaving their Fortunes to their Children

Several of the world’s billionaires want to spread as much of their wealth as possible before they die, leaving much of their fortunes to charity. Not everyone stands to gain from such selflessness — namely, the children of these generous donors.

The children of these billionaires won't be living large off their inheritances:

1. Warren Buffett: Warren Buffett has pledged to give away99% of his wealth, either during his life or when he dies. He started by promising 83% of it to the Gates Foundation,according to FORTUNE Magazine. Buffett said in his letter to the Gates Foundation: "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing."
2. Michael Bloomberg: Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor, has a net worth of $19.5 billion.  He is an avid philanthropist. In his letter to The Giving Pledge, Bloomberg wrote that "nearly all of my net worth will be given away in the years ahead or left to my foundation." Bloomberg's two daughters, however, may be left to foot the bill upon his death.Bloomberg once said, "the best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker."
3. Bill Gates: Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and CEO, is one of the richest people in the world. But he and his wife Melinda aren't interested in keeping their money for themselves, or for their three children. "I knew I didn't think it was a good idea to give the money to my kids. That wouldn't be good either for my kids or society," he told The Sun in 2010.
4. Bernard Marcus: Bernard Marcus, co-founder of the Home Depot, has a net worth of $1.5 billion. Not wanting his kids to inherit large sums of money — for their own good, he told Forbes that he plans on giving the majority of his Home Depot stock to his foundation, which benefits the handicapped and education. 
5. Nigella Lawson: Nigella Lawson, British chef, best-selling author and TV personality, was a millionaire even before she married (and then later divorced) wealthy advertising tycoon and art collector Charles Saatchi. She came under fire for saying, "I am determined that my children should have no financial security. It ruins people not having to earn money." She followed up that statement by saying she didn't plan on leaving her kids "destitute," but stood by the idea that they would have to support themselves after school ended.

The consensus among these billionaires seems to be that leaving their children a fortune would not be in the childrens’ best interests and that inherited wealth often does more harm than it does good. Although these children may not inherit billions, as Ms. Lawson said, they will not be destitute. They will likely have untold opportunities, advantages, and connections, to help them succeed.

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Most people have worked their entire life to accumulate their assets.  Everyone needs the peace of mind that comes with making sure their finances are taken care of if they become incapacitated, that decisions about their health care are carried out the way they would like, and that their children and other heirs are taken care of when that time eventually comes (whether or not they have billions to leave to their children or to charity!). If you haven’t started your estate planning or to update your documents, please call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation at The Fairfax Estate Planning Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Death Cafés Present a Comfortable Way to Talk about Death

Many people want to discuss death but feel uncomfortable trying to bring the topic up around friends. A growing trend in gatherings, called Death Cafés, is gaining attention for presenting a comfortable way talk about death with others. Death Cafés bring strangers together in a public setting to increase awareness of death, while sipping coffee and eating comfort foods like cake and cookies.

According to The New York Times, Founder Jon Underwood modeled the Death Café concept based on the work of sociologist Bernard Crettaz, who started running Café Mortel get-togethers in 2004 in Switzerland and France. Underwood read an article in 2010 and decided to start holding similar events as part of a range of projects he was doing about death.

Want to run a Death Café? These are some guidelines from the founder. Death Cafés should be:
  • Run on a not-for-profit basis, though to be sustainable, one can cover expenses through donations and fundraising • Held in an accessible, respectful and confidential space, free of discrimination, where people can express their views safely. Settings can vary widely and can include cafes, churches, private homes, and community rooms.
  • Facilitated with no intention of leading participant towards any particular conclusion, product or course of action • Used to talk about death and dying, and not for bereavement support or grief counseling. People who have experienced a very recent and/or traumatic loss or death are encouraged to seek professional support.
  • A place where people consume refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake! Comfort foods like cookies and cake counteract the fear that people have about discussing death, allowing them to relax and talk.
A free guide is available for download on how to hold a Death Café from the organization’s website,

The conversation at Death Cafés typically include medical concerns, advance directives, physician-assisted suicide, financial concerns, wills, funerals, what happens after we die, and many other aspects of living and dying.

Whether or not you have the opportunity or desire to attend a Death Café to talk about the inevitable, it is important to plan for your future and for your loved ones. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call The Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Sleeplessness

A recent study found that nearly 15% of people age 71 and older (3.8 million people in the U.S.) suffer from dementia, which includes Alzheimer's and other mental disorders. For caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s, understanding the side effects and how to deal with them is incredibly important, especially when it comes to sleeplessness.

A full night of rest is important for any person in order to stay healthy, but it is even more crucial for those with Alzheimer’s, as it prevents irritability and lowers the chances of disorientation and confusion.

Unfortunately, most individuals with Alzheimer’s don’t get nearly enough sleep. Studies show that as the damage to the brain progresses, the likelihood of sleeplessness increases. This is because the damage done to the brain with this condition actually reverses the natural sleep to wake brain cycle. As a result, Alzheimer's patients often become tired, groggy or sleepy during the day.

This is why it is so important to understand ways to combat sleeplessness in Alzheimer’s patients, whether you are the professional caregiver, helping out, or if you are a friend or loved one. These are some tips:
  • Consider getting Alzheimer’s patients on a set regimen. This means avoiding long daytime or afternoon naps, staying away from sugar and caffeine in the evenings and getting them to bed at the same time every night.
  • Make sure they understand that the bed is a place for sleep and they should never be eating, resting, reading or watching television in bed.
  • Before going to sleep, try implementing a relaxing night time ritual that includes activities such as taking a long bath or listening to gentle music, instead of watching television or engaging in other stimulating activities.
Small changes such as this can go a long way in helping someone with Alzheimer's disease get on a schedule, and the benefits of a better night rest can be instrumental in managing Alzheimer's disease.
Do you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s? Persons with Alzheimer’s and their families face special legal and financial needs. At The Fairfax Alzheimer’s Planning Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.  If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, we can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs.  We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Certified Elder Law Attorney and Best-Selling Author Evan Farr is Named to the 2014 Best Lawyers in America List

Certified Elder Law Attorney Evan H. Farr has been named to the 2014 list of Best Lawyers in America, for the practice area of Trusts and Estates.Best Lawyers is one of the oldest and most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession.

Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries.

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. The methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

Phillip S. Greer, Chief Operating Officer of Best Lawyers, personally wrote to Mr. Farr, “I would like to congratulate you again on having been selected by your peers for inclusion in the 20th Edition of Best Lawyers in America for the practice area of Trusts and Estates.”

Read the press release.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Special Needs Trusts: How Much Money Should You Include?

Jonathan is 20 years old, has autism, and is currently receiving government benefits. He is still living at home with his parents, receiving SSI equal to $628 per month, as well as a monthly stipend of $30.

His parents want to make sure he is provided for should something happen to them and are considering a Special Needs Trust. They are not sure how much to include to ensure their son can maintain his quality of life, while still remaining eligible for needs-based programs that will cover basic health and living expenses.

What are some considerations in planning for how much to provide for his needs above and beyond what the state is providing? The following questions can help them make their decision:
  • Will he live at home, with another family member or caregiver, or in a community facility where his SSI would go to the facility for living expenses?
  • Are there medical expenses that are not typically covered by his benefits that are necessary? (e.g. allergy medication or assistive devices that are not covered by insurance)
  • What social activities are important to your child that you would want to ensure continues? ( e.g. going to movies or baseball games with siblings)
  • Are there things such as a computer, tablet, DVDs, video games, etc. that improve his quality of life?
The easiest way is to keep track of everything you spend on your special needs child above and beyond his benefits is to keep a record over the course of the month to see how much is spent. After you have that amount, go back and add in periodic expenses that might come up quarterly or annually.

Once you decide on the amount, how can you ensure that your wishes on how the funds in the Special Needs Trust should be used are made known? You can include an optional letter of intent attached to the trust that allows you to express your wishes, along with special notes about the beneficiary's preferences.

More than $13 billion a year is spent to care for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other special needs.  For the average affected family, this translates to $30K per year. Fortunately, there are many ways to plan for the long-term care of a disabled child. If you have a special needs child who will likely need care for life, it’s important to provide legal protections for your child. The Fairfax Special Needs Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. can guide you through this process. Be sure to check out our dedicated Special Needs Website at If you have a loved one with special needs, call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Happens to Credit Card Debt When You Die?

No one wants to face a situation where they have to deal with losing someone they care about. It’s only made worse if debt is involved. What happens to debt after you die depends on who has signed for it, as well as the laws in your individual state.
  • If you have a joint account with your deceased loved one, which you have co-signed for, then you become responsible for that debt. Keep in mind that “authorized users” who aren’t joint account holders are not responsible for the debt.
  • If you aren’t on the account, you don’t inherit the debt. Instead, the debt should be paid off with assets from the estate. In cases where there are unpaid debts when your loved one dies, the Successor Trustee of your trust or the Executor of your Will should use the assets to pay off debts. Secured debts (mortgage, car) are paid first, and unsecured debts, such as credit cards, are tackled next.   
  • If there is not enough money to pay all the debts, some creditors might have to take a loss – every state has laws specifying which types of creditors have priority over others.
It’s always a good idea to talk to an estate attorney and get an expert opinion regarding your specific situation. Did you know that more than 120 million Americans do not have estate plans to protect themselves or their families from the unexpected?  For peace of mind, the time to address or update your estate plan is now. If you live in Virginia, DC, or Maryland, please call the DC Metro Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. today at 703-691-1888 to set up a no-cost consultation.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Can We Help The Self-Neglecting Senior?

Guest Blog Post by Jennifer FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C

Attorneys, because of the doctrine of attorney-client privilege, are generally forbidden from reporting any private or confidential information about a client, including reporting suspected self-neglect to Adult Protective Services. However, many other senior-serving professionals are classified as “mandated reporters,” meaning they are required to report suspected abuse, exploitation or neglect (including self-neglect). If, in the course of his or her professional duties, a mandated reporter is made aware of neglect or abuse, he or she is required to report these concerns to APS.  According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, some of the most common mandated reporters include:

 • Social Service Agencies
 • Law Enforcement Personnel
 • Emergency Response Service Providers
 • Healthcare, Medical or Dental Service Providers
 • Mental Health Providers
 • Financial Services Providers
 • Clergy

When these professionals who are mandated reporters make a referral to their local Adult Protective Services (APS), often they are frustrated with the results.  They may see a problem such as a client hoarding, a patient neglecting a serious health condition, or an 86-year old man financially supporting a malingering 62-year old daughter instead of paying his own bills. When these professionals report these matters as they are required to, the assumption is that APS will go in and resolve the situation.  These professionals tend to see APS as the police for older adults not following societal rules.  Of course the client should stop supporting his drug addicted daughter and pay his electric bill thinks the financial services provider.  Certainly the patient should take his insulin and lose some weight thinks the healthcare provider.  The wealthy patient living in squalor should clean up and live “normally” thinks the Emergency Response Service Provider.

There is no doubt that self-neglect in older adults is a serious issue; in fact, several studies suggest that it is highly associated with increased mortality. The larger problem that some professionals grapple with is that older patients who refuse to follow their recommendations usually have every right to refuse to do so.  In most jurisdictions, APS can only investigate if an older adult is categorized as vulnerable.  According to the Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse, “a vulnerable adult is defined as a person who is being mistreated or is in danger of mistreatment and who, due to age and/or disability, is unable to protect himself or herself.” 
Professionals often have to balance their belief about what’s best for the older adult clinically, financially, or legally while also respecting the older adult’s right to make his or her own decisions, even if those decisions demonstrate egregiously poor judgment.  Referring to APS may be appropriate at times, but we need to keep our expectations in check.  APS has a mandate to investigate self-neglect, but APS does not possess a magic wand.  Sometimes APS won’t investigate because the referral does not fall under its mandate.  Other times APS will investigate but be legally unable to take much more action than the professional who initially referred because the older adult is competent to make his or her own decisions.

So how do mandated reporters ultimately help the self-neglecting older adult?

1.    Show respect for the older adult and his decisions, no matter how much you disagree with them.  During the aging process, so much can feel out of a person’s control.  An older adult can be more open to hearing what a professional says when there’s acknowledgement that the older adult is still an adult.  Many tend to infantilize older adults, but when they are treated with dignity there is a better chance for your message to be heard.

2.    Encourage and persuade.  Give the older adult examples of when others in similar situations did not change and what the consequences were.  For example, if an older woman does not use her prescribed walker and is hoarding, she is at additional risk for falls.  The professional might consider sharing a story of when a patient in similar circumstances did this and it led to a broken hip and a long term stay in a nursing home.  These types of stories can sometimes motivate clients to at least consider changing or accepting more help.

3.    Keep referring to APS.  Although APS are not the “fixers” many mandated reporters hope them to be, APS does typically keep good records of referrals.  Even if APS may be unable to investigate today, or even though the investigation may not lead to immediate improvement, a referral begins a file. Perhaps APS cannot investigate today because the client doesn’t meet the required criteria. But what if three more people refer that client to APS in the next six months?  This may give APS the information it needs to open an investigation and help improve the client’s situation.

When APS workers are unable to investigate a case because it does not meet their criteria, they often are able to give helpful suggestions and ideas on other ways the professional could help the client.  The APS worker may recommend a service or strategy the referring professional had not considered.
Self-neglect in older adults is one of the most challenging and common situations that many senior-serving professionals encounter; we must remember that older adults are still adults who are allowed to make poor decisions.  There are very few circumstances in which it is legal or ethical for a professional to force an older client to change.  Dedicated senior-serving professionals must sometimes simply accept that only a serious crisis will lead to a real change.  Professionals should treat the self-neglecting senior with empathy and respect, and remain open to helping the client when he or she is ready to accept the help.
About the author:

Jennifer FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C is a speaker, author and consultant on aging & caregiving.  For more information, please see

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Suggesting a Memory Screening to a Resistant Loved One

What happens when you notice changes in your loved one’s cognitive abilities and you want to suggest a memory screening, but are met with resistance? 

When a loved one’s faltering memory causes problems finding words, a detachment from people, irritability, confusion, forgotten appointments or difficulty with everyday affairs such as grocery shopping, cooking or paying bills, then it’s time to broach the subject of a memory screening. 
When you suggest to a loved one that they should have their memory evaluated, the loved one may respond with fear, denial or sometimes even hostility. In some cases, the loved one may fear that the screening will reveal memory problems and lead to a loss of independence. It’s a very difficult issue for older people and it’s important to choose the right way to talk about it.

The most effective way to suggest a screening is by involving a medical or mental health professional. The recommendation process can occur, as follows:

  • The family meets with the loved one along with their primary care doctor, neurologist or psychologist.
  • The medical professional makes the recommendation.
  • Since the statement comes from an objective expert—and not a family member—the loved one is more likely to accept it.
  • The entire family can listen to the recommendations together and ask their loved one to have a memory screening.

Do you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia? Persons with dementia and their families face special legal and financial needs. At The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from dementia and their loved ones.  If you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia, we can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs.  We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a free consultation.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Facebook Gives Seniors a Cognitive Boost, Study Finds

Research findings suggest that men and women older than 65 who learn to use Facebook could see a boost in cognitive function. Currently, one in three online seniors use a social networking site like Facebook, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

In a preliminary study of older adults aged 68 to 91, researchers out of the University of Arizona noticed a 25 percent improvement in tasks related to working memory among new Facebook users.

Participants were divided into three groups. In the first, 14 seniors were trained to use the social media platform and were asked to post at least once day. Participants were instructed to befriend people within the group. A second group of 14 adults was instructed to use an online diary site, in which entries were kept private with no ability to share. Participants were instructed to post entries of no more than three to five sentences -- to mimic the length of status updates on Facebook -- a minimum of once daily. And the third group, which acted as a control group,were told they were on a non-existent "waiting list."

Prior to learning any new technologies, study participants, who ranged in age from 68 to 91, completed a series of questionnaires and neuropsychological tests measuring social variables, such as their levels of loneliness and social support, as well as their cognitive abilities. The assessments were done again at the end of the study, eight weeks later.
By the end of the experiment, those who learned how to use Facebook showed a 25 percent improvement in mental "updating" skills -- the ability to quickly add or delete contents of their working memory -- researchers noted. Participants in the other groups saw no significant change in performance.

"There's also a large body of literature showing that people who are more socially engaged are less lonely, have more social support and are more socially integrated are also doing better cognitively in older age," points out lead author Janelle Wohltmann.

Wohltmann says she also sees Facebook as a potential alternative to some online games marketed to seniors to help boost mental acuity. “This might be a new activity for people to learn that’s more interesting and keeps them socially engaged,” she said, adding that it can also help older adults stay connected with grandchildren and other family and friends.

Meanwhile, another study published last year in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that visiting social networking sites like Facebook provided positive emotional experiences, as measured by breathing rates, brain activation and pupil dilation.

We here at the Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. are pleased to see the social and cognitive advantages of social networking sites, such as Facebook. Now that you are posting pictures of your cruise, playing Candy Crush Saga with your grandchildren, and making plans to reconnect with old friends on Facebook, it is time to plan for your future and for your loved ones. Evan H. Farr is a Certified Elder Law Attorney with a focus on helping protect seniors and their families by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. Call the Fairfax Elder Care Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, CELA at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a complimentary consultation. 

P.S. Like us on Facebook and receive a 10% discount on your next set of new legal services we provide. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Long-Term Care Insurance is not for everyone--CNBC Nightly Business Report Three-Part Series

With Americans living longer and baby boomers hitting retirement age, the demand for long-term care is expected to surge. Long-term care (LTC) insurance is one way to pay for long-term care. But according to a recent three-part series aired on CNBC’s Nightly Business Report, LTC insurance is not ideal for everyone.

Watch the CNBC videos:

View Part 1        View Part 2        View Part 3

Is LTC right for you? According to the Nightly Business Report “If you have less than $200,000 - $250,000 in total assets, the chances are very good that the premiums you would lay out for long-term care insurance would be cost prohibitive relative to the risk that you’re actually shielding your assets from, because you don’t have enough assets. On the other end of the spectrum, people with over $2 million in assets may want to consider self-insurance as part of their long-term care plan. Those in the middle should consider some form of long-term care plan, but it may or may not include insurance.”

If you are considering LTC insurance, first look at each policy very closely because each one is written differently. Also, look closely at the insurer’s claims payment history and whether they have been increasing premiums for existing policy holders.

Keep in mind how LTC insurance has failed some consumers:
  • About half of all LTC policies lapsed before any benefits were paid; policy holders were unable or unwilling to continue paying their premiums.
  • Of those people who bought insurance and later entered a nursing facility, about half never collected a dollar from their LTC policies.
  • No benefits were ever paid to the many people who bought nursing facility coverage but instead received home care or entered a residential facility not covered by the insurance.
  • When LTC benefits were paid, they were usually far below the actual cost of care.For many of the longest-term residents, benefits were used up before the nursing facility stay ended.

In all of these situations, LTC insurance failed to live up to its promise to help people avoid using up their savings or relying on Medicaid to pay for long-term care.

There is a 71 percent chance for people over the age of 65, that at some point in their lives, they will need long-term care services. That alone says that you have to have a contingency plan in place. With long-term care costs rising faster than inflation, insurers have been raising premiums sharply. As mentioned previously, if you have done your research and decide LTC insurance is right for you and your family, you should incorporate it as part of your long-term care plan, not as the only form of planning for long-term care.  There are dozens of long-term care asset protection strategies other than long-term care insurance. For example, the Living Trust Plus™ Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is just one of many long-term care asset protection strategies.

If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call The Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.