Medicare Myths

March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Over 46 millions older or disabled Americans are covered by Medicare.  Yet, there are still misconceptions about the program that provides health care coverage to this vast number of Americans.  To those approaching Medicare eligibility age (65), it’s important to understand the programs.  In our blog, we will cover several misconceptions cover the next few weeks.


Medicare has several different programs, designated as “Parts,” with different types of coverage, limitations, and payment provisions.  Medicare Part A covers hospital, home health and rehabilitation services.  As long as you are eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits, there is no premium for Part A coverage, and generally no co-pays or deductibles.   « Read the rest of this entry »

Medication Problems and the Elderly

January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

At 83 years old, Martha still lived in her own home and enjoyed working in her garden and canning peach.  It was becoming harder to motivate herself, to get up in the mornings and accomplish the day’s tasks.  She confided to her daughter that she felt anxious and tired.  Her daughter, who was taking medication for anxiety, took Martha to her own doctor, not Martha’s and got her a prescription for Valium.  In doing so, the daughter’s doctor, who had never seen Martha and who did not have her medical history, was only aware of a few medications they told him she was taking.
Martha, in fact, was taking nine different medications as well as herbal supplements.

The addition of Valium to her existing list of prescribed drugs sent her to the emergency room with respiratory distress.  If she had gone to her own doctor, he would have found that a dosage adjustment of her current medications would have solved her anxiety.

Medication errors are common in the elderly.  Many seniors take on average six to eight different prescriptions as well as over-the-counter drugs.  Many times the elderly will not go back to their doctor to have their dosage evaluated and changed if necessary.  Family members should be aware that elderly parents may tend to take the family’s advice over going to their own doctor.  Even though children want to help increase the health and stamina of their parents, they may in fact be causing damage by misdirecting their loved ones.

Where a younger person can benefit from herbal supplements like Ginkgo Biloba, Saw Palmetto and others, it may cause adverse reactions with their prescription medications.

In 2003, a panel of experts put together a list of potential medications that would not be appropriate to give to seniors.  This is called the “Beers List” after one of the research professionals.  Dr. Donna M. Fick, R.N., one of the panel members for updating the “Beers List”, states in her article on

Just as our bodies physically slow down as we age, changes occur in the way that older bodies handle pharmaceuticals, and this has motivated experts to develop a list of drugs that may be harmful to elderly patients.

“With age, drugs tend to build up in the body, and the distribution and elimination of drugs from the body changes as well,” says Dr. Donna M. Fick, R.N., associate professor of nursing at Penn State.  “Many drugs, like diazepam (Valium) and other anti-anxiety drugs build up fast.”

An online article on titled “Drugs and the Elderly” talks about physical symptoms and medications:
Among the first signs that a drug may not be working properly in an older person is a change in mood, energy, attitude, or memory.  Too often, these alterations are overlooked, ignored, or chalked off to “old age” or senility.  Older people may themselves feel that their blue mood is caused by something external, such as the death of a friend or simply by boredom.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Virtually every heart medication, blood pressure drug, sleeping pill, and tranquilizer has been known to trigger depressive symptoms.

When a psychological symptom appears in an older person, examine his or her medication or drug use first.  Consider, too, factors like alcohol intake, poor nutrition, and hormone imbalance.  And never dismiss the possibility that a real psychological problem has developed and may itself require medication.

There are many things family members can do to help monitor medications for their elderly parents:
have a list of all medicines prescribed and all supplements being taken;

  • give a list to the doctor and pharmacist and have one on hand for emergencies;
  • have the same pharmacy fill all prescriptions
  • keep pills in a daily pill box organizer;
  • have a family member who is responsible for physically monitoring the taking of medication;

Family members who live long distances from their elders have available to them new technology in medication monitoring:

  • alarms for pill boxes, watch alarms, medical alarm bands and necklaces that ring a reminder;
  • computerized pill box dispensers that ring a designated number if the pills have not been taken
  • home care agencies offer a variety of service options and may help with medication management

Overmedication or taking medication incorrectly may lead to early mental confusion and decline in health in seniors.  If medication problems were ranked as a disease in cause of death, it would be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.  (From an article on LongTermLiving).

Puzzle Smooth If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your loved one please contact Legacy Law Firm, LLC.  The firm is located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients.  The office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334 or email at
LEGACY LAW FIRM, LLC:  Helping your family build a lasting legacy from one generation to the next.

Elder Law Attorneys Specialize in Helping the Elderly 

January 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

Many elderly persons rely entirely on their children, family members or other trusted individuals to help them.  This dependence upon caregivers or family members makes an older person more vulnerable to abuse and financial exploitation.  Legal arrangements and protective actions by family may be necessary to shield loved ones from making bad decisions or from being taken advantage of. « Read the rest of this entry »

Recognizing the Need for Outside Help in Caregiving

January 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Caregivers often don’t recognize when they are in over their heads, and often get to a breaking point.  After a prolonged period of time, caregiving can become too difficult to endure any longer.  Short-term the caregiver can handle it.  Long-term, help is needed.  Outside help at this point is needed. « Read the rest of this entry »

Real Estate Scams Target Elderly

December 5, 2012 § 3 Comments

With the real estate market continuing to decline, homeowners are faced with the discouraging reality that their home has significantly lost value and many struggle with the fact that they now owe more than their home is worth.  To make a bad situation worse, there are some con artists that are using the opportunity to take advantage of elderly homeowners.

“Current real estate market conditions have opened the doors for financial elder abuse by obtaining property through undue influence or fraud,” says Elizabeth Ernster, an attorney with Ernster Law Offices, P.C., in Pasadena, California (  “The unfortunate reality is that many seniors are being swindled by real estate agents who have convinced them into selling their home for less than its market value, and then making a large profit off the sale.” « Read the rest of this entry »

Holidays A Good Time To Assess Your Elderly Parent’s Health 

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The approaching holidays provide a festive reason for families to share some quality time together.  While Thanksgiving can make a good excuse to have an extra helping of pie, it can also be an excellent time to assess how elderly relatives are fairing.  And having the family together can also provide your family a chance to discuss plans for future care and arrangements.

The AARP ( has put together a list of things to look for when you visit your senior family members this season. « Read the rest of this entry »

Beware – Medicare Scams

November 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

As if open enrollment for Medicare wasn’t stressful enough, there are now several scams that seniors need to be aware of while they are enrolling.  Most of the cons aim to either sell the senior unnecessary coverage plans or to simply steal their identity.  Either way, the con artists can be very convincing.

A comprehensive list of the most common scams was collected by  Please take the time to read the list below.  Education is the best way to protect yourself from these cons: « Read the rest of this entry »