Standing up for-elders aging in a for-profit world
We believe it is our bonds of trust and loyalty that hold our communities together. We advocate for elders because we believe by standing up for the aging and their families we best stand for those values. Here’s why:
As we age, more and more of our relationships become ones of trust. The law calls these fiduciary relationships. These are our relationships with our doctors, financial advisors, lawyers, trustees, and even family members who we rely on to safeguard our health and money. They older we get, the more our relationships become fiduciary.
The law imposes special duties on fiduciaries. When an elder’s fiduciary (such as a health care provider or money manager) abuses that trust, that’s elder abuse. If your fiduciary exploits their relationship with you to profit without your consent, that’s fraud. We started Molland Law to stop that abuse. And each dependent elder has special rights under the law to be treated fairly by their nursing homes, hospitals, doctors, and their representatives. Molland Law is committed to protecting those rights.
As part of the Elder Justice Act, Congress estimated that between 500,000 and 5,000,000 elders are abused, neglected, or exploited each year. Elder abuse is against the law, regardless of whether it results in physical or financial injury. There are stiff penalties for both. Proving physical abuse, however, especially for those who are sick or disabled in care facilities, requires detective work. If suspected, an advocate should demand an explanation from the elder’s caregiver, residential facility, or nursing home.
Even harder to detect is financial abuse. This is because most financial abuse does not occur at the hands of an outsider, but from a person the elder has come to trust – a caregiver, financial adviser, a personal representative, even a family member. Our Resources Page discusses the law of elder abuse in detail. Click here read about it.
The Baby Boomer generation is already the wealthiest group of older adults in history, and there are a lot of us. Fifteen years from now, when the last baby boomer turns 65, one out of every five Americans will be over 65. As we age and lose our independence, the temptations for those we trust for to exert undue influence over us increase dramatically. Since 80% of our money will be passed to our children, so do the chances for disputes about it when we die.
It makes no difference how much money you have. In fact, once elders lose their independence, those with the most money are the most vulnerable to abuse by those they have trusted. If no one is looking out for them – watch out. That’s what we do as advocates – guard the money that belongs to people who are no longer strong enough to protect it. A detailed description of the special protection the law of fraud gives elders can be found on our Resources page.
When elders enter a hospital or nursing home each and every one of them have certain basic rights that MUST be honored by their care providers. The problem is not that our for-profit healthcare system does not care about these rights. Rather, the problem is most care providers are also set up to make money, and as a result have a strong incentive to care about themselves first. That is why the elderly need strong advocates to stand up for their rights in the health care system – to ensure their needs don’t take a backseat to profits.
Under California law residents are guaranteed many rights including:
- The right to refuse any drugs that affect your mind, except in an emergency situation. Any use of drugs that affect your mind must be used to treat medical symptoms and not be used for the purpose of discipline or staff convenience.
- The right to refuse any plan of care, treatment, or procedure.
- The right to choose your personal doctor.
- The right to be treated with respect and dignity in recognition of your individuality and preferences.
- The right for a relative or legal representative to act on your behalf to exercise these rights when you are unable to do so.
Patient rights are numerous and important. A more detailed listing of them is on our Resources page: hot link.
Government Benefits for the Aging
Government benefits are the lifeline for most elderly Americans. Medicare and Medicaid pay for the vast bulk of their medical expenses. Social security constitutes 80% of their income and without it; nearly half of American seniors would be living in poverty.
But eligibility for these entitlements is often unclear. Even those in charge of often cannot understand the rules. As a result many deserving elders do not get the benefits that are theirs. They need advocates to help them if they are to receive what they are entitled to.
Whether an elder is entitled to Government benefits depends on the specific circumstances of the individual. A more detailed listing of the Governmental agencies and community advocates who can assist with these benefits is on our Resources page