September 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Beginning October 1, 2012 The Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC will become LEGACY LAW FIRM, LLC. There will be no change to the firm, other than the name. All the same people are here: Dawn M. Weekly, our principal attorney; Allen Dotson, the Business Manager; Jori Contrino, our Certified Elder Care Coordinator; Amanda Strong, our Benefits Coordinator and Steve Weekly, our Client Services Coordinator. Our firm focuses on Life Care Planning, a holistic approach to elder law and long-term care planning, that incorporate a care component, provided by a Care Coordinator, to a legal and financial plan for long-term care.
Since the focus of the practice is to help elders leave a Legacy for their family, rather than having their estate systematically depleted to pay for long-term care, we decided to change the name of the firm to Legacy Law Firm, LLC to emphasize the goal of the firm.
LEGACY LAW FIRM, LLC: helping your family build a legacy to last from one generation to the next.
October 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
This summer the FDA approved the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine formulation that will be produced and distributed this flu season. The vaccines will target 3 different strains of the influenza virus that the public health community believes will cause the most illness this year.
While several different manufacturers produce the vaccine under many different brand names, one new vaccine of particular interest is the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine. This flu shot was formulated specifically for people 65 years of age and older. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
Many elderly people rely entirely on family or other trusted individuals to help them. Whether it is for physical needs or emotional needs, as people grow older they tend to need more and more help from others. This dependence on caregivers or family members makes an older person more vulnerable for abuse.
For example, an older person relying on her children to provide meals and transportation and help her with financial decisions finds it difficult to complain when one of her children takes advantage of her. If, for instance, the child takes her money, hits her or neglects her care, the parent may be threatened with loss of support from the child if the parent complains. The child may also use threats of violence to keep the parent in line.
It is estimated that 5% to 10% of elderly Americans are suffering abuse. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse,
Spiraling rates of elder mistreatment are reported by both practitioners and researchers. In a recent national study of Adult Protective Services (APS), typically the agency of first report concerning elder abuse, there were 253,421 reports of abuse of adults age 60+ or 832.6 reports for every 100,000 people over the age of 60 (Teaster, Dugar, Otto, Mendiondo, Abner & Cecil, 2006). The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study (National Center on Elder Abuse, 1998) found that more than 500,000 persons aged 60+ were victims of domestic abuse and that an estimated 84% of incidents are not reported to authorities, denying victims the protection and support they need.
Much attention has been focused on abuse in nursing homes but most of the elder abuse in this country is at the hands of family members or other caregivers in the home.
In 2004, Utah Adult Protective Services workers investigated approximately 2,400 allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults. In Utah, a vulnerable adult is defined as an elder adult (65 years of age or older) or an adult (18 years of age or older) who has a mental or physical impairment, which substantially affects that person’s ability to protect or provide for themselves. The majority of the victims were females between the ages of 60-89 and 60% of the perpetrators were family members/relatives, while 24% were non-related paid caregivers.
The protective needs identified were as follows:
- self-neglect 31%
- physical abuse 16%
- exploitation 19%
- caretaker neglect 12%
- emotional abuse 19%
- sexual abuse 3%
In conducting the investigations, it was not uncommon to find that adults who were self-neglecting were also being exploited or abused. As stated previously, these statistics are based on approximately 2,400 cases, thus, if only one in ten cases are ever reported, it is possible that there were actually 24,000 or more cases in Utah that year. We suspect nine out of ten is close to the actual ratio of unreported versus reported cases in Utah.
We also believe that Utah’s lack of reporting elder abuse is not unlike other states in the country. We suspect all the states are experiencing close to the same ratios of underreporting as in Utah.
There are a number of reasons why incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation are not reported to Adult Protective Services or other authorities. One of the most common reasons is the victim’s fear of losing support. Many of the perpetrators area family members and the victim fears that reporting the crime will result in removal of the caregiver, as the perpetrator may ace incarceration or may discontinue relations with the victim once accused, charged, or convicted. Many of these victims fear that by reporting abuse they will be left alone and expected to care for themselves or they will be forced to live in a nursing home.
Many states have implemented mandatory reporting laws to assist in the prevention of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults. Utah is one of the many states to have a mandatory reporting law (U.C.A. § 76-5-111). Utah law states that any person who has reason to believe that a vulnerable adult has been the subject of abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall immediately notify Adult Protective Services or the nearest law enforcement agency. Anyone who makes the report in good faith is immune from civil liability in connection with the report; however, any person who willfully fails to report is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
It is important to note that the anonymity of the person or persons making the initial report and any other persons involved in the subsequent investigation shall be preserved and may only be released in accordance with the rules of the division (U.C.A. § 62A-3-311). In addition, all investigation information is confidential.
The following is a list of indicators of abuse, neglect or exploitation. It is important to note that the following list is merely of indicators and may not always be violations.
Signs of abuse
- Unexplained bruises, welts, fractures, abrasions or lacerations
- Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
- Multiple/repeat injuries
- Low self-esteem or loss of self determination
- Withdrawn, passive
- Depressed, hopeless
- Soiled linen or clothing
- Social Isolation
- Inappropriate or soiled clothing
- Over/under medicated
- Deserted, abandoned or unattended
- Lack of medical necessities or assistive devices
- Unclean environment
- Social Isolation
- Missing/”disappearing” property
- Inadequate living environment
- Frequent/recent property title changes or will changes
- Excessive home repair bills
- Forced to sign over control of finances
- No/limited money for food, clothes and other amenities
September 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
At 83 years old, Martha still lived in her own home, and enjoyed working in her garden and canning peaches. 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 her 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 6-8 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, in older people, these herbals 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., associate professor of nursing at Penn State and one of the panel members for updating the “Beers List,” states in her article on Seniorjournal.com:
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. Fick. “Many drugs, like diazepam (Valium) and other anti-anxiety drugs build up fast.”
An on-line article on HealthSquare.com 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 further 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:
- make a list of medicines prescribed and all supplements and vitamins being taken;
- give this list to the doctor and pharmacist and have one on hand for emergencies;
- use the same pharmacy to fill all prescriptions — pharmacies have a record of your prescribed drugs and will verify your doctor’s instructions — they will also tell you if foods or over the counter supplements will interact with a prescription;
- dispense pills in a daily pill organizer box;
- have a family member be responsible to call or physically monitor the taking of medication.