Archive for May, 2012

Facebook Launches New Tool to Aid Veterans and Service Members in Distress

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

A new program launched by social media giant Facebook aims to assist veterans and active members of the armed forces by directing them to helpful resources when their content is flagged as suicidal or harmful.

The initiative expands on a program that Facebook started in December, which allows concerned friends to identify potentially suicidal material by clicking a link next to it.  The user in distress then receives an email from Facebook with information about suicide prevention and resources.

Blue Star Families, an organization for military support, joined with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help Facebook launch the program for service members.  Blue Star Families said in a statement that while military families could already take advantage of Facebook’s existing program, “there are several specific resources provided to our nation’s military that we wanted to make sure they were aware of at their time of need.”

Engineers at Facebook determined a way to identify past and present members of the armed forces.  If these users post comments that are flagged as suicidal, they will receive information about resources such as The Veterans Crisis Line.

Suicide among American military family members is a grave and growing concern.  Blue Star Families conducted a survey of 2,891 members of military families and found that 10% had contemplated suicide, while 9% knew a service member who had considered suicide.

Many participants in the survey said that there is still a stigma within the military about mental health counseling.  Rather than recommend such programs, military leaders will often tell distressed service members to “soldier on” or “suck it up.”

Facebook may be an effective way to refer service members or veterans in crisis to the resources they need, as 86% of military families who use Facebook say they use it every day.

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New Federal Department to Help Seniors and Disabled

Monday, May 21st, 2012

On April 16, the federal government announced the formation of the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a new agency dedicated to helping seniors and persons with disabilities gain access to supports in their communities.

“All Americans – including people with disabilities and seniors – should be able to live at home with the supports they need, participating in communities that value their contributions – rather than in nursing homes or other institutions,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, in announcing the change.

The Administration for Community Living will focus on the special needs of specific groups of people, such as seniors who have dementia and children who have developmental disabilities.  The agency’s goal is to provide access to the supports needed for seniors and the disabled to live with dignity as full participants in their communities.  This includes not only ensuring access to health care services, but also helping with access to employment, education, and housing.  Beyond those basic needs, the agency will also assist the people it serves in making and maintaining the community relationships and social connections necessary for full participation in community life.

The change consolidates the Administration on Aging, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Office on Disability into one entity, which Sebelius said would be stronger and more focused.  Sebelius said “the ACL will pursue improved opportunities for older Americans and people with disabilities to enjoy the fullest inclusion in the life of our nation.”

To learn more about the new agency, visit

For assistance with questions regarding your child’s special needs visit our website at To learn more about New York elder law or New York estate planning, visit

Signs That A Loved One Should Consider Assisted Living by J.D. Davis

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Our latest guest blogger is J.D. Davis, a co-founder of Golden Years Living Solutions, which provides a free service to families searching for senior residences.  He can be reached at (914) 437-8675 or visit the company’s website for additional information.

People with aging parents may find it difficult to have a discussion about the prospect of transitioning them into a senior residence, particularly an assisted living community.  Many adult children should expect to face some resistance from their parents who may feel they are not ready to give up their independence and/or move from their home.  However, there are potential warning signs that one should consider while evaluating the particular circumstances.  The following are some examples when having a discussion on the topic might be necessary:

  • The refrigerator is empty or filled with spoiled food, which may be a sign that food shopping and preparation are more difficult.
  • The parent has frequent bruises, which may be a sign of falling or mobility and balance problems.
  • The parent poses a safety risk by living alone (i.e., forgetting to turn off burners on the stove).
  • The parent wears the same clothing over and over again or neglects personal hygiene, which can be a sign that doing laundry and bathing are becoming more challenging.
  • The house isn’t as clean and tidy and is in disrepair, which may show that maintenance may becoming too much of a burden.
  • The parent forgets things (including doctor’s appointments and when to take medication) or dresses inappropriately for the weather, which may be due to memory loss or dementia.
  • The parent seems to be depressed or anxious, which may result from isolation and staying home alone, particularly if a spouse recently died.

Assisted living communities offer many great benefits to the residents and provides peace of mind to their loved ones.  Some of these benefits may include the following:

  • Dining plans with many choices of food to ensure that each resident is eating a well-balanced healthy meal.
  • Daily social and recreational activities to encourage an active social life.
  • Laundry and linen services.
  • Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing and medication management, ensuring greater health and personal hygiene.
  • On-site trained staff for medical emergencies.
  • Group transportation for shopping and community events, and personal transportation for doctor’s appointments.
  • On-site medical offices, physical therapists and other medical professionals.

While having a discussion with a parent about moving from the home may not be easy, promoting the benefits of assisted living can make the conversation much easier.  Planning ahead and getting them comfortable with the prospect of moving into such a residence is strongly encouraged.

Costs May Be More Affordable

Many families believe the costs of living in an assisted living community are too expensive, thereby making it not a viable option from a financial standpoint.  However, some residents are eligible for discounts at certain communities based on their former careers.  For instance, retirees who served as firefighters may save hundreds of dollars per month from the rent at certain communities.  In addition, certain residents may be eligible for a government benefit as much as $2,000 per month, which makes the costs significantly more affordable.

An appropriate diagnosis can help an aging individual and their loved ones plan for the future. Being proactive in the early stages can allow a person a chance to make long-term decisions about their care, living arrangements, finances, and legal concerns. This allows a person more opportunity to benefit from advanced medical care and support services so that the aging process and effects of the disease are managed better. To learn more about New York elder law or New York estate planning, visit