How Much Long-Term Care Will I Need?

Long-term care is defined as the support and services necessary to meet an individual’s health and/or personal care needs over an extended period of time. The reality is that an individual who is turning 65 years of age today has nearly a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services in the remainder of his or her lifetime. Although one-third of individuals in this age group will never need long-term care, 20% of these individuals will need long-term care services for a period of five years or longer. Additionally, women tend to have a greater need for long-term care for a longer period of time (3.7 years) as opposed to men (2.2 years).

On the whole, older Americans are more likely to use long-term care services in the home as opposed to in a facility, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. 65% of individuals use in-home long-term care for a period of at least two years, 59% of which is unpaid for at least one year. On the other hand, 42% of individuals use paid in-home care for less than one year. Only 37% of these individuals require long-term care through some sort of facility. More specifically, 35% of these individuals require one year of care in a nursing facility and 13%, less than one year of care in an assisted living facility.

While long-term care is a necessary part of life for many older individuals, there always is the risk of neglect or abuse at the hands of those caregivers who are entrusted with the care of these individuals. The nursing home neglect lawyers of Boller & Vaughan pride themselves on advocating on behalf of clients who have been neglected in some way while residing in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other similar institution. We can seek compensation for you through the personal injury or wrongful death claim process, while you and your family can concentrate on healing, recovering from any trauma that you and your family might have experienced, and moving on with your lives. Don’t hesitate to call our office today and learn how we can help.

What are Accelerated Death Benefits?

Many individuals have declined to purchase long-term care insurance, mostly out of fear of spending money on a situation that never occurs. As a result, some life insurance companies have offered variations on traditional life insurance policies in order to induce consumers to purchase some degree of long-term care funding. Accelerated death benefits (ADBs) are a feature of some life insurance policies, which allows you to use some of the policy’s death benefit prior to death, as a sort of cash advance. These benefits often come at an additional premium, but may be an automatic provision in some policies. By using these accelerated death benefits, either alone or in conjunction with other life insurance-related products, you may be able to fund the steadily rising costs of long-term care, either for yourself or for a loved one.

There are different types of ABDs that are available in different situations. For instance, ABDs may cover one or more of the following situations:

  • Terminal illness
  • Life-threatening diagnosis
  • Need for long-term care for an extended period of time
  • Permanent confinement to a nursing home due to an inability to perform the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or brushing one’s teeth

Many ADB policies that cover long-term care services are capped at 50% of the policy’s death benefit. Some policies, however, will allow you to lose the entire amount of the death benefit. Most policies allow you to use two percent of the face value of the life insurance on a monthly basis. If home care is needed and is covered by the policy, then the monthly limit is typically one-half of that amount. Whatever the amount of ADB that you receive from your life insurance policy, that amount is subtracted from the amount that the policy will pay out to your beneficiaries upon your death.

There are some important considerations to take into account, however, in deciding whether to purchase a life insurance policy with ADBs. For example, qualifying for a policy with ADBs may not require you to undergo health screenings, such as might be required if you attempted to purchase long-term care insurance. Thus, if you have a health condition that might prohibit you from qualifying for long-term care insurance, then an ADB policy may be your best option. On the other hand, ADB policies often are much more limited than the services that are typically covered by long-term care insurance. Additionally, the face value of your life insurance policy may be too low to sufficiently provide for your long-term care needs. If this is the case, then you may need additional coverage or another source from which to fund long-term care.

Unfortunately, long-term care also can result in problems that may lead to serious injuries or even death, in some cases. If you have lost a loved one as a result of any type of abuse or neglect while he or she was residing in a nursing home or residential facility, you may be entitled to compensation. This inquiry involves determining which party or entity was at fault for the accident, acted negligently, or otherwise caused the conditions that led to your loved one’s death. At Boller & Vaughan, our Madison elder abuse lawyers can help you with these determinations, and support you through any wrongful death claims that you may have.

Aging Profiles in the State of Wisconsin

According to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Applied Population Laboratory, the number of Wisconsin residents who are older than 65 years of age will double within 30 years. The last census in 2010 accounted for 777,000 of Wisconsin residents over the age of 65. The study projects that this demographic will leap to 1.5 million over a 30-year period. Likewise, the number of residents over the age of 85 will almost triple in number, increasing from 118,500 in 2010 to 287,000 in 2040. A major reason for this increase in the elderly population is the movement of the baby boomer generation, or those individuals who were born between 1946 and 1964, into these age groups.

Part of this increase in the number of Wisconsin residents is attributable to a continuing rise in life expectancy. If data holds true, the life expectancy of a male will rise from 77.3 years to 81.5 years, and the life expectancy of a female will rise from 82 to 85.7. This significant rise in life expectancies is spurred by the development of medical care and technology.

These statistics hold true not only for the state of Wisconsin, but also for the entire nation. Americans tend to retire five years earlier than they did in 1950 and live about 12 years longer. By most estimates, some 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day across the United States. As a result of this population shift, experts anticipate that funding for Medicaid will increase significantly, as will the need for more primary care physicians, nurses, and affordable dental care.

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that nursing homes and other elderly care facilities refrain from hurting or neglecting their residents in any way. When a nursing facility violates a nursing home resident’s rights, and injury occurs as a result, the nursing facility may be liable for those injuries. We know how to investigate your case, assess your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has any potential claims against nursing home staff or the nursing home itself. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you through this difficult situation.

Common Signs of Neglect in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Resident

While nursing home neglect is not always easily detectable, there are some red flags to look out for if a loved one is residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Discovering and putting a stop to situations involving neglect will not only help safeguard your loved one’s health, but also help prevent perpetrators of neglect from treating other elderly residents in a neglectful manner.

First, watch out for signs of increasingly poor hygiene in your loved one. Many adults who reside in nursing homes have difficulty with certain tasks of daily living related to hygiene, such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and combing hair. If a caregiver fails to provide this type of care, and a resident is unable to complete these tasks on their own, then the resident may be suffering from neglect.

Unsanitary conditions also may be a sign of neglect in the nursing facility environment. Your loved one’s physical environment should be cleaned on a regular basis. Messes or accidents should be cleaned up immediately. Bedding should be clean and changed on a regular basis. Infection is already a concern in most medical care facilities, so it is important to protect your loved one from these risks, which can occur in the context of neglect.

An increasing loss of mobility also may be cause for concern. If your loved one is left to sit in the bed, chair, or wheelchair for hours at a time, not only may he or she lose much-needed mobility and develop pressure sores from remaining in the same position. Loss of mobility also can lead to falls or other preventable injuries.

Boller & Vaughan knows the ins and outs of elder neglect and abuse law and has the experience necessary to help you through any type of elder neglect and abuse claim, including incidents involving elder financial, physical, and mental abuse. No matter what type of nursing home facility abuse or neglect is at issue in your case, we are here to help. All too often, residents and their families are reluctant to demand justice for situations that occurred in the resident’s care. In this situation, you can count on your Madison elderly abuse attorneys to guide you through every step of the personal injury claims process.

What Rights Do I Have as a Nursing Home Resident?

As a nursing home resident, you have certain rights that staff members and fellow residents alike must uphold. While some of these rights may seem very basic, the fact is that nursing home residents experience violations of these rights on a daily basis in facilities nationwide. By educating nursing home residents about their rights, we hope to encourage residents and their family members to take steps to ensure that no one is violating their loved ones’ rights.

Every nursing home resident should expect to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, whether he or she is interacting with nursing home staff members or other facility residents. Residents should never experience humiliation, harassment, threats, or abuse, whether it is emotional, verbal, financial, physical, or sexual in nature. Likewise, no resident should be isolated from his or her loved ones or other residents or punished in any manner through restraints, isolation, or abuse.

Staff members and health care providers should ensure that residents are not overmedicated for any reason, and especially if the medication is being used as a chemical restraint to control or modify the resident’s behavior. Doctors should prescribe medication or restraints only when necessary to treat a resident’s particular medical condition.

When conflicts with others arise, all residents should be treated fairly and equally; staff members can help residents who are at odds with one another to reach a mutually satisfactory compromise. Likewise, all nursing home residents are entitled to privacy; staff members and other residents should knock on doors and receive permission to enter the room, if possible. Staff should always provide personal care to residents in a manner that is private as possible, with only the minimum number of staff persons involved, out of the view of others when at all possible.

By working to safeguard the rights of nursing home residents, the hope is that incidents of abuse and neglect will decrease. At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to stand up for the rights of all those residents and their families who have suffered substantial injuries while under the care of those are supposed to prevent such injuries from occurring. Contact us today at (608) 268-0268, set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys, and discover how we can help.

Nursing Home Occupancy at Lowest Rate Since 2005

According to data compiled by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), nursing home occupancy rates for the fourth quarter of 2016 remained at their lowest levels since 2005, or at an average rate of 86.8%. In comparison, nursing home occupancy rates over the last four years averaged 89.7%. Annual inventory growth rate for nursing care also remained flat at 0%. Likewise, assisted living occupancy rates fell 0.3% from the third quarter of 2016 to 87.6%, which is the lowest occupancy rate since early in 2010. Meanwhile, occupancy rate for independent living properties averaged 91.1%, or an increase of 0.1% from the prior quarter.

As a result of these figures, the inventory of available units numbered more than 5,900, which is the most units available in a single quarter since 2006, which is the first year that NIC started maintaining and analyzing this type of data. The strongest area of inventory gain was in assisted living units, which numbered some 4,100 units alone.

Given the naturally aging nature of the American population, it is no surprise that occupancy rates remain relatively high, even as they have reached the lowest rates in years. The highest rate of occupancy of the different types of senior housing choices is independent living properties, as opposed to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Due to the prevalence of seniors needing at least some degree of assistance in terms of housekeeping, medical care, and/or the activities of daily living, occupancy rates at all of these facilities remained high, although the inventory of these units continued to rise.

All too often, nursing home staff members fail to properly monitor or care for residents, which can result in injuries and even death in some cases. Nothing can substitute for proper care provided by nursing home staff. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts of your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have against the nursing home in question, or its staff members. Call your Wisconsin nursing home neglect attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.

Reducing Polypharmacy to Keep Seniors Safe

Polypharmacy occurs when a patient is taking multiple medications for the same condition, taking different medications for more than one condition, or taking more medications than is medically necessary. While there is no clear consensus on how many medications in any given situation constitute polypharmacy, it is clear that in an aging population, polypharmacy is quite common. In fact, some studies show that almost 50% of nursing home residents are potentially overmedicated for their medical conditions.

Nursing home residents can suffer significantly as a result of polypharmacy. The consequences of polypharmacy may include drug interactions, adverse drug events, and falls, all of which can result in hospitalization and even death. Polypharmacy also can cause older individuals becoming non-ambulatory, cognitively impaired, incontinent, and malnourished. Eliminating polypharmacy, however, can improve patient outcomes and the quality of care in a nursing facility.

There are a number of steps that nursing homes can take in order to eliminate polypharmacy. First, nursing staff can help improve the situation simply by being aware of the signs and symptoms of adverse drug events. Pharmacists also can prevent polypharmacy by reviewing residents’ medical records and recommending medication changes, reductions, and discontinuations as needed. Physicians, in turn, should consider and respond to these recommendations.

As this post illustrates, polypharmacy can have an extremely negative effect on nursing home residents, to the point of injuries or even death. When staff members of nursing homes neglect their duties, thus causing harm to you or a loved one, you may have legal grounds for a lawsuit against the staff and facility who failed to properly do their jobs. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you should definitely contact an experienced Wisconsin elder abuse attorney at Boller & Vaughn today. We know how to protect your rights and potentially get compensation for any injuries that occurred. Nursing homes have a duty to protect their residents and ensure that they receive the appropriate level of care, including avoiding medication interactions and polypharmacy. When staff members fail to meet that duty, it is up to you to hold negligent Wisconsin nursing care facilities responsible for their actions. Call Boller & Vaughan today and see what assistance we can offer you and your family.

GAO and Senators Call for Changes to Prevent Guardian Abuse

A new study by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that the incidence of guardians who turn from bad to worse through exploitation and abuse of their charges happens on an alarmingly frequent basis. With little or no oversight by state authorities or courts, then guardians are often free to abuse their wards, particularly from a financial perspective. In response, a Senate committee has called for tougher state oversight of guardianships in an attempt to combat elder financial abuse.

In guardianship proceedings, a state court typically appoints another adult, such as a close relative or family member, a professional, or a government agency to legally represent the interests of an incapacitated adult, whether the incapacitation is due to illness, injury, or advanced age. This guardian has the power to make key decisions on the incapacitated adult’s behalf, including key financial and legal decisions. Due to the prevalence of guardian abuse and exploitation, however, the GAO is calling for all state courts to examine guardianships on a closer and more frequent basis in order to ensure not only that a guardian is necessary in the first place, but also that a guardian continues to be necessary for the long-term. Additionally, courts should consider less restrictive alternatives to guardianship, such as caregivers. Criminal background checks also can be useful in determining whether a person is an appropriate guardian, but cannot be exclusively relied upon, as background checks don’t necessarily identify activity in another state.

The GAO study identified the state of Washington as a model state in terms of taking steps to ensure that guardians are taking appropriate actions on behalf of their wards. For instance, Washington requires that potential professional guardians complete a 90-hour course, and potential family guardians complete two-hour courses in order to serve as guardians. The hope is that these training courses will help avoid unintentional and intentional commingling of assets and other inappropriate actions that guardians sometimes take.

You entrust your loved one to a guardian and/or a nursing home so that he or she is properly cared for. When that facility or guardian fails to provide your loved one with an even basic level of reasonable care, it is likely that negligence occurred, which may make that facility and the guardian liable for the resulting injuries. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be entitled to compensation for the losses that you or your family member has suffered. Call our Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys at Boller & Vaughan and learn what we can do for you and your family.

New Medicare Rules Should Help ‘High Need’ Patients

New Medicare regulations went into effect on January 1, 2017, which require compensation for physicians who spend time working in teams to improve care for seniors with chronic illnesses. These care coordination teams, which often consist of doctors, nurses, social workers, and psychiatrists, focus on high-need patients who suffer from hypertension, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and heart failure. These patients often have multiple medical conditions that put them at a much higher risk of disability, hospitalization, and premature death.

One major purpose of these regulations is to focus on reducing the costs of those whom tend to be the costliest of all patients in the American health care system. The reality is that 10% of patients account for 65% of the nation’s total health care spending. Under these new Medicare regulations, complex chronic care management now is reimbursable at higher rates on a more frequent basis. This type of care management will include services such as transitioning seniors between hospital and home or hospital and rehabilitation center, arranging home-based services, and providing patients and caregivers with resources. The hope is that medical practices now will be able to hire care coordinators to continue to reduce the costs of medical care for these high-risk seniors.

Studies have found that primary care physicians often do not diagnose dementia on a timely basis. Medicare now has made enhanced reimbursement rates for comprehensive cognitive examinations that incorporate ten distinct elements. If the examination reveals dementia, then the physician’s office must create a care plan to address the patient’s needs and goals. Additional funds are available from Medicare for the care planning process. Plus, doctors will now receive reimbursement for patient care performed in between visits, such as after-hours phone calls and reviews of medical records.

The Wisconsin long-term care abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know how to protect your loved ones’ rights, no matter what the situation may be. Our law firm handles these cases on a regular basis and is experienced in advocating on behalf of clients just like you. We are here to help you fight back against any healthcare facility that causes harm to your loved one, and get any compensation to which you are entitled.

Trends in Nursing Home Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) is reporting that as of 2014, which is the year for which data is most recently available, there are 15,600 nursing homes in the United States with a total of 1.7 million beds. These nursing homes care for an estimated 1.4 million residents.

In the state of Wisconsin, the 2014 National Study of Long-Term Care Providers indicates that 26 out of every 1,000 Wisconsin residents over the age of 65 live in a nursing home. This rate is not statistically much different from the national rate of 24 out of every 1,000 individuals. For Wisconsin residents over the age of 85, however, 101 out of every 1,000 individuals lives in a nursing home, which is quite a bit higher than the national rate of 87 out of 1,000. There are an estimated 27,600 individuals living in these nursing homes, 68% of whom are female. About 50% of these individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, and over 90% of them, on average, need assistance with basic physical functioning, such as dressing and bathing.

Furthermore, Wisconsin had 400 nursing homes in 2014, with a total bed capacity of 34,100. The average capacity of each nursing home was 87. More nursing homes (nearly 59%) were located in metropolitan areas than not. Over 21,000 nurses, social workers, and aides are employed full-time at these facilities. However, the vast majority of nursing home employees are aides (67%), with 17% registered nurses and 14% licensed practical or vocational nurses.

As the nursing home industry continues to grow with America’s steadily aging population, the quality of care and staff members continues to become of greater concern. All too often, nursing home staff members do not properly care for their residents, which can lead directly to their injuries resulting from neglect or inappropriate handling. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have against the nursing home in question, or its staff members. Call your Wisconsin nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.

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