Boo! Our Top 10 Scariest Articles of 2020 (A Very Scary Year!)

RIP 2020 Halloween Gravestones2020 has been a scary year! Since we’re so close to Halloween, it’s a perfect time to catch up on some of the scariest elder law, estate planning, and special needs planning articles until now. Exposing everything from dementia at 30 to coronavirus patients being moved to nursing homes, our subject matter can get pretty ghastly. Sure, you may have to sleep with a nightlight after you read some of these articles, but it will be well worth it.
 
To celebrate Halloween, we’ve ranked our scariest articles from least to most scary (but you be the judge) for you to revisit, if you are bold enough to do so. As always, thank you for reading our newsletter and blog!
 
Note to our readers: if you’re someone who doesn’t like thinking about scary topics, such as spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on long-term care, then you might want to stop reading or proceed with caution. But if you’re curious, please read on. . .
 
A clause in Harry Houdini’s will requested his wife conduct an annual séance every Halloween. Houdini had his wife memorize a secret “code” that he thought would use identification to prove communication from the “other side.” She honored the request for 10 years on Halloween, the anniversary of her husband’s death. Read about this and 18 other weird will requests.
 
Currently 63% of Virginia is rural with 1.47 million Virginians residing in rural areas. Virginia’s rural communities face unique health care concerns that include lack of health care providers and difficulty accessing those providers due to transportation and technology barriers. It’s kind of scary when you cannot access healthcare and you need it. What can rural Virginia seniors do?
 
Since Mark moved into assisted living, the coronavirus pandemic has made everyone extra cautious. He is glad for this, because older adults, as well as people with compromised immune systems and those with underlying chronic medical conditions, seem to be at higher risk of developing serious, life-threatening complications from the coronavirus. However, Mark’s children haven’t been able to visit him and residents are in isolation in their rooms. Mark feels like a lonely inmate. His children are concerned because loneliness kills a lot of people, too. If coronavirus doesn’t kill seniors, will loneliness be the culprit?
 
Even in the states that have passed laws to allow medical aid-in-dying, many hospitals, most pharmacies, and some doctors are not on board, which can cause issues for patients who wanted to exercise their legal right to physician-assisted suicide but was faced with obstacles.
 
This article discusses coronavirus research that was conducted on cats and dogs. Three infected cats were put in cages next to uninfected felines. The team later detected viral RNA in one of these exposed cats, which suggests that it contracted the virus from droplets breathed out by the infected cats. The authors also found that ferrets are highly susceptible to coronavirus infection. Dogs, however, were less susceptible to the virus.
 
Many of us who have studied COVID-19 or know someone who had it know that it can cause worrying neurological symptoms, such as a loss of smell and taste. Australian scientists are warning the damage the virus causes to the brain may also lead to more serious conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
 
As many of us are aware, dementia has traditionally been considered a concern for older generations, typically beginning after the age of 65. But according to a new study by the National Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), recent spikes have been found in early onset dementia (under age 65) in Americans as young as 30!
 
Health care providers have recently expressed concern that anxious Americans and prospective patients don’t really understand what is involved with going on and then coming off a ventilator. They believe that this understanding is necessary when deciding what you would want should you become seriously ill and the device is offered. Ventilators have been helpful in saving the lives of some people with COVID-19, but are they worth the discomfort and long-term effects when they don’t always work and there may be other less extreme options? Read about a couple examples of ventilator horror stories and other life-saving options.
 
Kim Stryker, a Virginia resident, was a long-distance caregiver for her father, Steven Stryker, a Navy veteran residing in Florida. Steven had his share of health issues over the years including alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his time in Vietnam. Steven’s health got worse in 2018. On August 8, 2018, AdventHealth filed a petition asking a judge to appoint an emergency guardian for Steven Stryker, and a court-appointed guardian by the name of Rebecca Fierle was named. By May 2019, Steven Stryker, 75, had been moved to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. While he was there, Kim said her father began to choke, but hospital staff were prohibited from providing lifesaving care, because unbeknownst to the family, the court-appointed guardian had filed a do not resuscitate (DNR) order. Steven Stryker died as a result of the hospital being unable to perform lifesaving measures.
 
In April of this year, hundreds of long-term care facilities in the US had residents who were infected with coronavirus. Nursing homes were being asked to admit coronavirus patients, a practice which in many cases proved to be deadly for sick senior residents. With hospitals desperate to clear space for an expected wave of COVID-19 patients, they were discharging as many patients as possible, including many to nursing homes.
 
Scared Yet? Here’s Something Really Scary!
 
If all those articles weren’t enough, do you want to hear something really scary? Nursing homes in DC and Northern Virginia cost $12,000-$14,000 a month, an amount that will quickly wipe out all of the money you have worked your entire life to earn — if you don’t properly prepare for long-term care.
 
If you are now officially freaked out, and if you or a loved one has not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning, or Incapacity Planning (or had your planning documents reviewed in the past several years), please call us to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation:
 
Elder Law Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Elder Law Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Elder Law Rockville: 301-519-8041
Elder Law DC: 202-587-2797

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