Federal Government Introduces New Efforts to Combat Elder Abuse

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsIn an effort to combat elder abuse in the United States, the Obama Administration recently released a program outline titled “The Elder Justice Roadmap”.

The Elder Justice Roadmap will be used to develop strategic plans and provide guidance in tackling the highest priority challenges to elder abuse prevention and prosecution.

Aiming identify the most critical priorities in elder abuse issues, The Elder Justice Roadmap derives its content from the opinions of hundreds of experts and innovators from across the country.

Using this collective data, proponents of the initiative hope to develop strategies to raise public awareness about elder abuse, conduct research about the costs of elder abuse, develop better treatment options for victims, and inspire a more active involvement from the private sector. Continue reading “Federal Government Introduces New Efforts to Combat Elder Abuse”

Medicare Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsA recent examination of federal data conducted by USA Today has recently revealed that the number of U.S. senior citizens receiving narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medications under Medicare’s prescription drug program is sharply rising. Recreational drug use can still be classified under medication-related problems (MRPs).  Caregivers can play a key role in identifying and managing substance abuse issues, however, they may also be held liable if they fail to notice the signs of substance abuse.

According to the data collected between, 2007-2012, the number of senior patients receiving Medicare prescriptions for opioid-based pain medications has increased by more than 30 percent to upward of 8.5 million beneficiaries.

Specifically, the use of the most commonly abused painkillers, like hydrocodone and oxycodone, rose by more than 50 percent. The data also showed a significant increase of the personal supply of each narcotic provided to the average recipient rose about 15 percent over approximately three months. Continue reading “Medicare Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise”

Kansas Toughens Penalties for Elder Fraud

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsFraud and financial abuse of the elderly is more widespread than you may realize. It may even be on the rise due to longer life expectancy and an aging population. Sadly, elder fraud and abuse appears in many forms, affecting millions of senior citizens and their families throughout the United States. These crimes go largely unseen because many seniors do not recognize when it happens to them or may be too ashamed to speak up. The State of Kansas and its lawmakers are standing up against elder law fraud and abuse by drafting measures that create harsher punishments for future offenders.

A new law signed by Governor Brownback of Kansas, is a “first step in the right direction,” to better protect Kansas senior citizens against fraud and financial abuse, said Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The law applies when a victim of financial abuse is over the age of 70-years-old and it “substantially enhances” penalties for stealing from an elderly person. If convicted of large-scale financial abuse, an offender could face more than 40 years in prison. Additionally, the new law makes it a criminal offense to misuse a trust or power of attorney to misappropriate an elder person’s life savings. Continue reading “Kansas Toughens Penalties for Elder Fraud”

Medicaid Myths

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsWe all expect and hope to have long and healthy lives. However, the truth is, no one lives forever and all too often health issues and accidents occur, leaving many individuals unprepared and in trouble. But there is something you can do to ensure you are never put in this position: PLAN! By planning ahead, you are able to answer the tough questions and make arrangements while you are in good health and mind.

The harsh truth is that 7 out of 10 people over the age of 65 will require expensive long-term care at some point. Would you be able to foot the bill for an extended stay at a nursing home, assisted living facility or at-home care for you or your spouse? Even if you could, would you prefer to pass your savings and other assets to your loved ones rather than have those assets depleted by costly long term care expenses? To protect your lifestyle and assets, Medicaid Planning is necessary.

Continue reading “Medicaid Myths”

Daughter of 85-year-old Being Denied Guardianship Rights

As a loved one grows older or when he/she suddenly becomes incapacitated, the basic human instinct is to protect them from harm. And although there are many cases involving family and friends with bad intentions, it is clear that if the ability to make decisions for your loved one was stripped away from you, the results would be heartbreaking. That is what a Pittsburgh woman is claiming regarding the medical treatment and control of her mother.

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsMirsada Begovic, the daughter of 85 year-old Enisa Begovic, claims that in the last two months, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has restricted her access to her mother and has required her to be escorted to her mother’s room by security, after the hospital accused her of interfering with her mother’s medical care. Mirsada, a physician trained in Bosnia who once was part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School staff, says however, her only offense has been advocating forcefully for her mother. Continue reading “Daughter of 85-year-old Being Denied Guardianship Rights”

NYS Breaks Record in Medicaid Fraud Recoveries

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsThe New York Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG), reports that in 2013, it recovered what seems to be the highest ever recovery amount regarding Medicaid fraud in the history of the agency. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement early this February, reporting a sense of pride in New York and explaining the figures as an illustration of how New York State is “truly leading the nation in fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars.” The exact figures calculated reached $1.7 billion over the past three years, and a record of $851 million in 2013 alone.

Continue reading “NYS Breaks Record in Medicaid Fraud Recoveries”

Dividing Caregiving Responsibilities between Siblings

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsCaring for an elderly parent or family member is a serious responsibility to take on and can bring joy and purpose into one’s life but may also cause both emotional and financial strain on a caregiver and his/her family. Having another person such as a sibling to help rely on, can help make things easier, but it can also lead to conflict and resentment. It is important to understand the issues that may arise when two or more adult siblings are caring for an elderly parent, and the best ways to resolve problems.

The main question that is usually asked between siblings taking care of a sole elderly parent is: “Who will be the primary caregiver, and what factors go into the decision?” One of the main factors taken into consideration is the proximity of the siblings in regards to the elderly parent’s home. Yet there are plenty of other factors that siblings should consider while creating a plan for the caregiving. Such as:

  • Work Schedules
  • Individual’s Family Income
  • Individual’s Personal Skills such as day-to-day hands on care or the financial planning and organizing

The best way to avoid conflict and confusion is to communicate openly and often. Good communication is probably the most important factor in making these decisions. Ideally, responsibilities will be divided in whatever way feels fair to everyone involved, and arriving at the best outcome depends on communication.

Finally, as with most things, careful planning will save a lot of headaches and keep your loved one as best protected as possible. Just as the schedule of doctor’s appointments and daily medications needs to be kept track of, so should the finances be kept in careful order and hiring an experienced attorney can make all the difference. If you are splitting responsibilities for caring for a loved one, or believe that you will be taking on such a responsibility in the near future, contact a skilled elder law attorney to help ensure that the right steps are taken to protect your loved one.

A Living Will vs. A Healthcare Proxy

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsA Living Will is often confused with a Health Care Proxy and vice versa by many individuals. Although both provide advance directives regarding medical decisions, they both are separate documents with distinct features and purposes.

It is vital to become aware of these terms, what they mean, and the impact both documents can have on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Get informed and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

A Living Will

A Living Will is a written statement of an individual’s wishes regarding medical treatment. This document is created to define a person’s specific plan as to how their health care will be handled if they are gravely ill or incapacitated in the hospital. The primary issue to be determined in a Living Will is whether a person wishes to be put on life support, and what type of life-preserving measures should be taken.

A Living Will is vitally important not only for the ill person, but for the family. Without a Living Will, a physician may call upon the family members to make very difficult judgment calls. These types of matters have been increasingly more common with advancements in medical science, and the increased ability to extend life.

Living Wills give detailed instructions regarding medical treatment if an individual is in a persistent vegetative state, in a coma, or otherwise unable to communicate how she wants his/her medical treatment handled. Perhaps a person does not believe in being kept alive by artificial means, particularly if there is no hope of recovery. A Living Will stating this fact would give this person control over their own health care when they are unable to express their own wishes.

A Healthcare Proxy

A Healthcare Proxy varies from a Living Will in that a Health Care Proxy appoints a particular person to speak on your behalf regarding medical decisions, if you are in a situation where you can’t make them yourself. The idea behind a Health Care Proxy is that someone makes the decisions you would have made, had you been able to do so.

You must choose your proxy thoughtfully since he/she will be acting on your behalf. After appointing your proxy, it is extremely important to discuss your wishes with them about your medical care, including resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration and personal goals for quality of life. Knowledge of your wishes will help guide the decisions your proxy will have to make with your medical team. Knowing that any decisions made are based on your personal values and wishes will be a comfort to family and friends during a stressful time.

Contact an Attorney

If you become unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age, the right legal documents are your lifeline. When you don’t write down your wishes about the kinds of medical treatment you do or don’t want to receive and name someone you trust to oversee your care, these important matters can be placed in the hands of estranged family members, doctors, or sometimes even judges, who may know very little about what you would prefer. In order to ensure you are protected, contact an experienced attorney today.

The Purpose of a Guardianship and the Mental Hygiene Law: Article 81

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsIf you’re finding it difficult to take care of your personal needs or your property, or maybe you do not really understand the decisions that you have been making, and/or your friends and family are concerned but are unable to provide the help you need, perhaps an appointed Guardian is an option for you or your loved one.

The New York Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 was established to provide a Guardian to handle the personal and property needs of an alleged incapacitated person.  Incapacitated persons are those who are unable to provide for their own personal needs and/or to manage their property.  In addition, an incapacitated person is someone who is unable to comprehend or appreciate the inability to handle such affairs.

You might be asking yourself, “Well, how does someone know they are an incapacitated person?  What are the signs or symptoms so that you or a loved one can be appointed a Guardian?”

A Guardian is rarely appointed to an incapacitated person because he/or she self declares or voluntarily decides to classify themselves as an incapacitate person.  Rather, it is a decision that is given by court order based upon the condition of the individual so that a Guardian can be appointed.  The court’s decision is based upon evidence that is clear and convincing that the individual is likely to suffer from harm because he or she cannot comprehend the consequences of the actions they are taking or cannot provide for themselves adequately.   The Guardian can be someone the incapacitated person recommends or nominates or simply someone the court appoints that can best serve their interests.

Now that you have an appointed Guardian or you’re aware that such an option is available, you’re probably wondering what a Guardian will actually do for me.  The Duties and obligations of the Guardian are created in a particular way so that the needs of the incapacitated person are catered to in regards to personal care and/or the individual’s property management.  There may be a variety of issues that a Guardian may be appointed to help with including financial affairs, physical illness, substance abuse or dependency, personal needs, management of property.  The purpose is to help with the best interest of the incapacitated person in mind.  The Guardian will help make decisions that may be too difficult to make alone, handle medical needs or personal care, and to make sure finances are in order.

The Law Firm of Hobson-Williams, P.C. can assist with all aspects of Guardianships from the application to the court, preparation for the court proceeding and after the Guardian is appointed.

Call our office at (718) 210-4744 now to schedule a consultation!