Archive for the ‘Alzheimers’ Category

Settlement Reached for Seniors Who Must Leave Assisted Living Home

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

An assisted living home for seniors in New York City is closing and five residents who had refused to move will accept a $3.35 million settlement.

In March 2014, the management of a home for seniors in Brooklyn announced that the facility was closing and the residents would have to move within 90 days. Many of those affected were angry, alleging that the building owners wanted to sell to a developer. Most moved out as requested, but one group filed a lawsuit to halt the closing.

Littman Krooks Elder LawThe New York State attorney general, investigated the matter, saying that giving seniors 90 days to leave their homes was unreasonable. Some had Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia; family members worried that they would not be able to find the same level of care at another facility and that moving would be traumatic.

By November 2014, there were eight holdouts in the building, faced with empty halls and dwindling services. Now there are five, ranging in age from 91 to 101. Each of them will receive more than $500,000 in the settlement, but they must leave their apartments by the end of the summer.

Attorneys for the residents said the settlement was a victory, giving the seniors the time and money they need to find other accommodations. An attorney for the building’s owner said he was satisfied.

The lawsuit also named the New York State Health Department as a defendant, claiming that the agency did not follow federal and state rules regarding the closing of the home. A resolution to that part of the lawsuit has not been reached at the time of this writing.


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Seniors & Mental Health: Is it Mental Illness or Aging?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Seniors are more at risk for mental illness than the general population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20 percent of people age 55 and older experience some kind of mental health concern. Not only are more seniors affected by mental illness, nearly one in three affected older adults does not receive treatment. By learning more about this often-misunderstood problem and watching for warning signs, we may be able to help elders in need get treatment.

Littman Krooks Elder LawMost people are aware that seniors are more at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairment. About 11 percent of seniors have Alzheimer’s disease, but it is crucial to understand that cognitive decline is not a normal part of aging. Therefore, changes such as increased forgetfulness, confusion or disorientation should be taken seriously. With a prompt diagnosis, seniors can benefit from treatment earlier, and any necessary changes to their living environment can be made in order to keep them safe.

Seniors are also at risk for depression and mood disorders. According to the CDC, in a 2006 survey, 10.5 percent of people age 65 and older said they had received a diagnosis of depression at some time in their lives, and 5 percent had current depression. Another 7.6 percent received a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Anxiety disorders can include a variety of problems, such as phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, including hoarding syndrome. Many seniors fail to seek treatment, in part because some people mistakenly believe that depression is a condition natural to aging.

Mental health concerns can have consequences beyond the symptoms of the condition itself. Untreated mental illness can lead to social isolation, take away from seniors’ independence, and cause physical problems and additional medical concerns. That is why it is important for seniors to take preventive measures, and for their loved ones to be aware of warning signs.

Studies have shown that preventive measures can alleviate mental health problems. The risk of depression and anxiety can be lowered as a result of better physical health. Simple exercise three times a week can be even more effective than prescription medication. Research also indicates that keeping the mind active, through social activities, games and puzzles, and communication with friends and family, can decrease the risk of mental health disorders.

Loved ones and caregivers should watch for changes that may indicate mental health concerns for seniors.

Warning signs include:

  • social withdrawal,
  • a depressed mood that lasts longer than two weeks,
  • memory loss,
  • confusion,
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt,
  • unexplained physical changes, such as in dress, weight or hygiene.

If any of these symptoms appear, discuss them with the family doctor. Treatment such as counseling or psychiatric care can help seniors get on the right track to healthy aging.


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Proposed FINRA Rules Will Help Prevent Financial Elder Abuse

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Under new rule proposals soon to be released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), financial advisers would be able to delay disbursing funds from the accounts of senior investors if they believe financial elder abuse may be taking place.

Littman Krooks Elder LawOne of the proposed rules would allow financial advisers to wait up to 15 days to disburse funds from senior investors’ accounts if they reasonably believe that financial exploitation is occurring. The proposed rule defines a senior investor as a person who is age 65 or older, or an investor who may be vulnerable for other reasons. The rule would allow advisers to reach out to a person designated as a trusted contact.

A related proposal would require financial advisers to make a reasonable attempt to get contact information for a trusted person on senior investors’ accounts. Under the current proposal, if a senior investor declines to provide such information, the adviser is still permitted to open the account.

The proposed rules would require that if an adviser paused disbursements on a senior investor’s account because of suspected financial elder abuse, the adviser would be required to notify the trusted contact. However, if the trusted contact is the person suspected of committing the exploitation, then the adviser could notify another family member or other responsible party.

The proposed FINRA rules are similar to rules proposed by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) recently. The NASAA rules allow for a 10-day hold on disbursements when abuse is suspected, and provides for qualified immunity from civil or administrative liability for firms that report suspected financial exploitation of seniors.


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New NightCare Program for Seniors with Alzheimer’s at Sarah Neuman Offers Respite to Caregivers

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Our guest blogger this week is Amy Brandwene, LMSW. She has a Certificate in Gerontology and MBA in Marketing from Fordham University. She has worked with older people and their families in skilled nursing environments, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities.

As the sun sets, anxiety increases for some elders with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. That’s because of “sundowning,” a condition characterized by increased confusion and agitation which starts in the late afternoon or early evening and often includes nighttime wakefulness, aggression and wandering. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that some 25% of people with dementia suffer from sundowning. It takes a huge toll on caregivers who must choose between care and vigilance and their own sleep, and so, is a leading reason for people with dementia to be placed in nursing homes.

Littman Krooks Elder LawThe Sarah Neuman Center at Jewish Home has introduced the NightCare program designed to comfort and engage elders with this level of dementia, and to provide respite for their caregivers. Offered several nights per week, from 7 PM to 7 AM, the NightCare program is staffed by experienced, caring professionals like Ruth Mederski, LPC. She explains, “At night when these seniors can become more anxious, we are there to give reassurance.”

In additional to providing a caring and safe environment, the NightCare program offers activities designed to help these elders connect with others; conversation, games, and art, music and recreational programs can all be beneficial. For those who can participate, falls prevention and safe walking programs, as well as Tai Chi and elder-friendly yoga are available. There is a nurse who can administer medication, and if the elder also participates in the Adult Day program at Sarah Neuman, there is coordination between the day and night nurses.

The NightCare program at Sarah Neuman offers dinner after arrival, snacks and breakfast. The program will also include a caregiver support group to help families cope with the strain of dementia care.

Perhaps the most meaningful offering of the NightCare program is peace-of- mind for the caregiver. The son of one NightCare client has shared that “it’s a great relief knowing my mother is safe and cared for at night. I can sleep.”

For more information contact: Amy Brandwene, LMSW at Jewish Home’s Sarah Neuman Center in Mamaroneck, NY 914-864-5804.  She is currently the social worker for the Sarah Neuman Center’s Day Center and NightCare program.


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Understanding the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Alzheimer’s disease starts with mild, sometimes unnoticeable symptoms that slowly have a more and more significant effect on a person’s ability to function. The rate of progression varies from a couple of years to twenty years or longer, but Alzheimer’s will eventually progress through the following stages, as described by Barry Reisberg, M.D. of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center:

Littman Krooks Elder Law

Littman Krooks Elder Law

Stage 1: No symptoms of dementia are present. However, evidence shows that changes to the brain begin long before symptoms develop.

Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline begins, which can be similar to normal changes associated with aging. The person may have trouble finding words or misplace things easily, but dementia cannot be detected in an exam.

Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline that starts to be noticeable to family or co-workers. Issues such as trouble remembering names, finding the right words, short-term memory, and planning and organization, but diagnosis may not be possible.

Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline that can be diagnosed as early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms are more clear in this stage, and will include short-term memory issues, trouble with mental math, difficulty performing complex tasks and changes in mood.

Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline, also known as mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. At this time, the cognitive decline is noticeable, and often the person’s ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) like cooking and grocery shopping begins to decline. Confusion is pronounced.

Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline occurs. Memory continues to get worse, and personality changes occur. The person may have trouble remembering their personal history, may forget the names of their spouse or caregiver and may need help with ADLs such as dressing and toileting. Changes in sleep patterns are common, and wandering can be a problem. Suspiciousness, delusions or compulsive behavior may develop.

Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline, also known as late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The person is no longer able to carry on a conversation, respond to the environment, or control their own movements. The person needs extensive help with ADLs, including eating and using the toilet. This stage of Alzheimer’s becomes fatal.

For more information about resources for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, visit

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The Walk to End Alzheimer’s (2014)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s (2014) Guest: Candace Douglas, Director of Constituent Events, Alzheimer’s Association, NYC Chapter


Advance Directives Need to Be Accessible

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

When drafting advance directives, a common problem for many people is making these documents easily accessible for their loved ones.

What is an advance directive? A legal document in which a person specifies what arrangements should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity. There are different ways of creating advance directives, including a living will, a durable power of attorney and also a health care proxy.

People may feel that their advance directive should be kept with their attorney or in a safe deposit box. However, decisions about medical treatment often need to be made quickly, so it is important that an advance directive be not only safe, but easy to get to.

If an individual’s advance directive appoints another person as health care proxy, then that person should have a copy of the document, or know where it is kept. If a patient is incapacitated, then it is important that the health care proxy be able to present the document to medical personnel.

It may also be wise to keep a copy of the document in electronic form, stored in such a way that it is accessible from a smartphone or other device. Such electronic copies have the same legal authority as the original paper document, and they can be accessed more easily. Ask your attorney what they recommend for digital or cloud storage for these documents to ensure the security of your private information. Learn more about our services within elder law and advance directives by clicking here.

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How Divorce and Remarriage Affect Social Security Retirement Benefits

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

People considering divorce as their 10-year wedding anniversary approaches should know that delaying the split until after the decade mark can result in higher Social Security retirement benefits for a spouse with a lower earning record.

Taking the example of a divorced couple where the ex-husband had a higher earnings record, if the couple was married for 10 years or more, then the ex-wife can receive higher benefits based on his record, provided she is age 62 or older and has not remarried.

Even if the ex-husband has not applied for retirement benefits, the ex-wife may receive benefits based on his record, provided they have been divorced for more than two years. If the woman remarries, then she would no longer be able to collect the benefits unless the later marriage

Recent years have seen a rise in both marriages and divorces later in life, and statistics suggest that divorcing couples may take retirement benefits into account, as there is a measurable increase in divorce after the 10-year mark. As might be expected, the effect is most pronounced for couples nearing retirement age. A recent study found that for people 55 and older, there is an 11.7 percent increase in the likelihood of divorce at about the decade mark. For couples age 35 to 55, that drops to a 6 percent increase in likelihood of divorce at 10 years, and for people under age 35, there is almost no effect.

Other researchers are skeptical that many people take retirement benefits into account in their divorce decisions, pointing to studies that show that only 13 percent of people are very knowledgeable about how Social Security benefits are calculated.

Whether divorcing couples currently consider retirement benefits in timing their divorce, many advisers agree that they should. Divorcing just short of the 10-year mark could result in thousands of dollars in lost benefits, so it may be worthwhile for some to delay the process.

Financial considerations are often part of making decisions about divorce, so it is important to be aware of how Social Security benefits can be affected.


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Leaving Unequal Inheritances to Children Can Cause Problems

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Many people creating or updating an estate plan are blessed with children and grandchildren, and enough assets to leave them a significant inheritance. However, deciding how to provide for future generations can lead to conflict, and much of that conflict stems from unequal treatment of children, whether it is intended or not. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid.

In some families, especially in previous generations, it was common to treat sons and daughters differently in regards to inheritances. A family business might be left to sons, while another asset such as a trust may have been created to provide for daughters. Needless to say, this can cause resentment and disputes. In modern times, such gender distinctions are less common. However, parents creating an estate plan often still choose to treat some children differently.

Parents sometimes consider providing for their adult children differently based on each child’s family income and assets. While this may seem like fairness, it is likely to cause resentment. It is, of course, one’s right to distribute one’s assets according to one’s wishes. However, parents may want to consider simply dividing their assets equally among their children. This simple solution can head off arguments and hurt feelings.

Distribution of assets to one’s children and grandchildren during one’s lifetime may be unequal for valid reasons. Paying for college may entail a greater cost for one child than for another. Helping to provide for grandchildren may mean that one’s adult children with more children of their own receive more help. These matters are best approached with openness and an attempt at fairness, keeping in mind individual circumstances.

When it comes to planning one’s estate, there may be a temptation to either mirror those inequalities by leaving more to adult children with more children of their own, or to make up for them by leaving something additional to one’s other children. However, the best approach may be the simplest: dividing one’s estate equally among one’s adult children, and providing that in the case of an adult child who has passed away, that any grandchildren receive that child’s share of the estate.

Passing on a family business may seem like a special case, but it need not be. If one or more adult child has had a special role in a family business, then that role will likely continue. Ownership of a family business may still be passed on to all adult children equally, with a child who has worked in the business continuing to be compensated for his or her work. Alternatively, a child who works in the business can receive ownership shares during the parents’ lifetime, so that the remaining family shares are distributed equally upon the parents’ death.

Passing on an inheritance to one’s children should be a cause for celebration rather than disputes. Making distributions as equal as possible is one way to keep it that way.



Different Types of Assisted Living Facilities Meet Different Needs

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Assisted living facilities are residences for senior citizens where help is provided with daily living activities, as needed. This can include making doctor’s appointments and taking medication, as well as bathing, dressing and grooming. Meals and housekeeping are also provided at such facilities. In the state of New York, all types of assisted living residences are licensed as adult care facilities by the Department of Health. However, there are different types of adult care facilities, which may also be called enriched housing programs or adult homes.

First, all adult care facilities are distinguished from nursing homes in that they are for people who do not need round-the-clock medical services or skilled nursing. People who need for medical staff to be present on a continuous basis are better served by a nursing home.

The two kinds of adult care facilities in New York, enriched housing programs and adult homes, both offer long-term care in a residential setting, including meals, laundry, housekeeping, supervision and assistance with personal care and medication. One major difference is that the law has stricter supervision requirements for adult homes, although a number of enriched housing programs may offer the same level of supervision. In addition, enriched housing programs usually provide apartment-style residences, while adult homes generally provide private rooms or two-person rooms.

The same types of service provided in enriched housing programs and adult homes may also be provided by assisted living residences and assisted living programs. In order to refer to themselves as providing “assisted living,” these facilities must meet additional requirements of providing certain disclosures and rights for residents. The goal of assisted living facilities is to provide the care necessary to allow individuals to live as independently as possible, emphasizing personal dignity and freedom of choice.

Finally, an assisted living residence that offers aging-in-place services and obtains additional certification may be designated an enhanced assisted living residence. A special needs assisted living residence is an assisted living residence that provides specialized care and meets additional certification requirements.

For more information, refer to the New York State Department of Health’s website on assisted living, available at