Every May is Older Americans Month. This is a time when seniors are formally celebrated as a valuable part of our shared society, and deservedly so. Older Americans Month also coincides with National Elder Law Month, which began in 1963 as a way to raise awareness about the field of elder law and the critical needs elder law attorneys fulfill every day.
We want to share seven important resources for seniors and their families with you this Older Americans Month. In addition, we want to let you know that we understand these challenges. Keep in mind that an experienced elder law attorney may be your most effective advocate for issues relating to any of these topics and more.
1. National Center on Elder Abuse. Research shows that roughly two million elder adults are abused in the U.S. every year. The National Center on Elder Abuse is a clearinghouse for best practices, news, and elder abuse resources. Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual harm, but also neglect and financial exploitation. Whatever the circumstances, it is wrong and legal recourse should be taken very seriously.
2. Medicare. Medicare is a massive federal health program for people aged 65 and older. There are different parts to the program, such as Parts A and B (or Original Medicare), Part D prescription drug coverage, and Medicare Advantage. Open enrollment is October 15th– December 7th. Medicare fraud is a multi-billion annual problem. Seniors might not realize that Medicare also covers home health and skilled nursing services in many scenarios.
3. Medicaid. Medicaid is a federal-state partnership program that provides health coverage for people with limited income and assets. Unlike Medicare, it can help pay for long-term care in nursing homes. Coverage differs from state to state, and an elder law attorney can help eligible seniors secure benefits without breaching strict financial requirements.
4. State Health Insurance Assistance Program. SHIPs, as they are often called, offer local insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare recipients, as well as their families and caregivers.
5. Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association offers information and support services for the more than 5 million American seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease. It also provides caregiver services and operates a 24-hour helpline for those in need.
6. Department of Veterans Affairs. The V.A. provides a vast array of support services for qualifying senior veterans and their families, particularly regarding health care, disability, education and crisis care. The V.A. also offers robust long-term care benefits that apply to nursing homes and in-home care. Elder law attorneys are tremendous advocates for senior veterans’ rights and often can help secure V.A. benefits when they are denied.
7. National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. NAELA is a nonprofit association of lawyers and organizations that provides legal services for older adults and people with special needs. NAELA established National Elder Law Month as a way to acknowledge the elder law profession and provide critical support for the nation’s senior community’s various legal needs.
We know this blog may raise more questions than it answers for you. If you or someone you know would like more information or specific guidance on senior legal matters, do not wait to contact us. We are here to help you and your family.