Here are some legal topics senior citizens should pay close attention to, and resources available to help them, when needed.
Access for the disabled
This doesn’t just apply to some senior citizens, but to people of all ages suffering from physical or cognitive disabilities. Access issues range from buildings that don’t offer wheelchair ramps, to forms not available in large print or Braille, to employers who don’t want to accommodate — or worse, discriminate against — disabled employees. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations concerned with the rights of disabled persons, including the National Disability Rights Network and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. disABILITY, whose founder is a quadriplegic, is a good starting point for finding organizations that help the disabled. You can also talk to your state bar organization or local legal support groups to find lawyers experienced in cases involving the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act.
Few want to lose the independence that driving brings to them, but as poor vision and slower reflexes become an issue with age, driving independently can become a problem, as well. Laws concerning “at-risk” drivers vary from state to state. SeniorDrivers.org, a site created by the American Automobile Association (AAA), has an interactive chart showing information about at-risk driver evaluations by state.
Elder abuse, like child abuse, is especially ugly when the person being abused has little independence. There are resources available, however. If you know of or suspect a case of elder abuse, contact the National Center on Elder Abuse, which maintains a hotline and a database of helpful organizations by state. You might also consult the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.
While you can go online for forms or buy software kits that can help you make a will, you may prefer to have a lawyer draft it in order to better ensure proper legality in your state. You’ll also want to draft forms naming your guardian if you were to become incapacitated, and establish a medical power of attorney chain naming loved ones you choose to make decisions about your medical care when you are not able to communicate your wishes yourself.
Consumer fraud and financial planning
Whether it’s due to falling home equity, lost pensions, or victimization by an online scam, a lot of senior citizens are feeling financially vulnerable these days. The National Consumer Law Center has a special section devoted to senior issues, including articles on bankruptcy, long-term care insurance, living trusts, and medical expenses.
Social Security and Medicare
Lots of law firms advertise themselves as experienced in dealing with Social Security or Medicare claims. Do your due diligence to check out those credentials before you commit to an attorney to assist you with one of these matters. Check the lawyer’s records with your state bar association. When you arrange for an initial meeting to discuss your situation, leave if you feel pressured to sign anything before you’re ready. Above all, always make sure you understand and feel comfortable with the terms of any agreement you sign.
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Where do you get ideas on how to decorate your apartment?
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