Seniors Should Be Thankful For This. . .

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving, making it an ideal time to give thanks and reflect on the positive things that have happened over the past year. Below are twelve of our blog articles from 2015 that make us and many of our clients thankful (chronologically listed from newest to oldest):
  1. Amazing new technology helps seniors age-in-place safely (when loved ones can’t be there): Technology is having a profound impact on elder care. The 2015 mHealth Conference in DC showcased age-in-place applications that center on remote monitoring, including mobile devices that check vitals such as ECG data, blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels, and more. Other technology, that will improve elder care, includes on-demand doctors, a dog walker app, a stroke-treating robot, and more.
  2. New Law Helps More People Live Independently:  On November 5, President Obama signed the PACE Innovation Act (PIA) into law. The new law will allow older adults, who do not yet meet the standard for nursing home level of care, and others who may not meet the age requirements (previously only for those over age 55) to participate in Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). It was also enable the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop pilot projects, based on the successful PACE Model of Care.
  3. Caregivers Now Get Overtime Pay: A three-judge appellate panel ruled that all caregiving hours in excess of 40 hours per week must be paid at 1.5x the basic rate.
  4. Medicare to Pay for End-of-Life Conversations with Doctors: Medicare just announced that beginning in 2016, doctors may be compensated for end-of-life advice to patients. Some doctors already have such conversations with their patients without billing extra. But an opening to roughly 55 million Medicare beneficiaries could make such talks far more common. 
  5. The ABLE Act becomes a law: Last December, the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act) won final congressional approval and was signed into law by President Obama. In July of this year, Virginia became the first state to approve it. The ABLE Act allows for savings accounts for individuals with disabilities for certain expenses, including education, housing, and transportation, without jeopardizing certain important federal benefits such as SSI and Medicaid.
  6. Hospitals are Required to Train a Family Caregiver Prior to Discharge: Since caregivers are now taking on certain medical tasks, a law called the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act took effect requiring hospitals to train a designated family caregiver to tend to the medical needs of a released patient. This year, Virginia was among 12 states to enact the law.
  7. The Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act passed the US Senate: The Senate approved legislation on Monday, July 27, 2015, requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care, but have not been admitted to the hospital. The law would require hospitals to provide written notification to patients 24 hours after receiving observation care, explaining that they have not been admitted to the hospital, the reasons why, and the potential financial implications.
  8. Social Security Celebrates 80 Years: For 80 years, Social Security has been protecting American families from both expected and unexpected challenges. In the Social Security Board of Trustees’ annual report to Congress, the value of Social Security and its importance to millions of retired workers, spouses, children, veterans, and persons with disabilities was discussed. As stated in the report, despite its flaws and funding issues, Social Security is likely here to stay.
  9. The once-a-decade White House Conference on Aging was held: During the conference, 200 advocates, health care workers, and government officials discussed caring for seniors, addressing topics such as health care policies, dementia research, nursing home safety, leave for caregivers, enhanced geriatric training for health care workers, and more. In preparation for the rapid growth of the senior population, the White House unveiled several initiatives aimed at improving health outcomes among older adults.
  10. Virginia’s New Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act Protects Digital Assets: The Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act, which became effective in Virginia on July 1, 2015, aims to assure that a person’s electronic footprint remains off-limits after death — even to his or her close kin — except under very strictly controlled circumstances. The legislation gives the personal representative of an estate the power to access a decedent’s online accounts and information in certain circumstances, with a judicial order. 
  11. It’s Medicaid’s 50th Birthday!  Nearly 70 million Americans (6 million seniors) are covered by Medicaid. Since its passage in 1965, Medicaid has become the nation’s main source of coverage and financing of long-term care services for the middle class — both the elderly middle class  and individuals with disabilities at all income levels.  Medicaid plays many different roles in our healthcare system and was recently expanded significantly as a base of health care coverage for low-income persons under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to Medicaid’s birthday, we also celebrated the 50th birthday of Medicare this year!  
  12. Alzheimer’s Accountability Act Signed Into Law: Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot currently be prevented, cured, or even slowed. To achieve the progress this disease requires, scientists need the necessary funds to carry out critical research. The Alzheimer’s Accountability Act includes a $25 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, which follows a $122 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, education, outreach and caregiver support made earlier this year.
From new technology to help seniors age-in-place to additional funding for Alzheimer’s research, we have a lot to be thankful for this year. 

Lots More to Be Thankful For 

As a senior, there are moments and memories that make our life meaningful. We accumulate these experiences over the years and appreciate them along the way. This Thanksgiving, take time to reflect on all you have and all you are thankful for. We at the Farr Law Firm are thankful for you, our clients, and hope that you have a happy and healthy holiday!

Remember, as you are taking the time to reflect, the greatest peace of mind comes with planning for your future and for your loved ones. If you or a loved one is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care or if you have 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 an initial consultation:

Fairfax Elder Law Attorney: 703-691-1888   
Fredericksburg Elder Law Attorney: 540-479-1435   
Rockville Elder Law Attorney: 301-519-8041   
DC Elder Law Attorney: 202-587-2797
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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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