Is Alzheimer’s in Your Future?

An estimated 44 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, and the global economic costs total $604 billion, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s could rise to 135 million, impacting healthcare costs and millions of seniors, families, and caregivers around the world. However, great strides are being made in treatment and prevention of the disease, which will hopefully make the situation less dire than projected.

Last week, Alzheimer’s researchers and advocates convened for the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen. The conference called attention to the latest breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research and spotlighted some exciting new findings. Below are some of the highlights:

  • Smell tests are being used to detect Alzheimer’s early. There is growing evidence that the decreased ability to correctly identify odors is a predictor of cognitive impairment and an early clinical feature of Alzheimer’s. It has been found that as the disease begins to kill brain cells, this often includes cells that are important to the sense of smell.
  • Eye tests are also being used as an early indicator for Alzheimer’s, and have been shown to be effective in determining the presence of a protein called beta-amyloid, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s.
  • Cataract surgery for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias not only improves vision but can slow decline in cognition and improve quality of life for both people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
  • Cognitively-stimulating mental and moderate physical activities in middle age may help protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in later life.
  • Poor Sleep is associated with higher dementia risk in veterans, and post traumatic stress more than doubles that risk.
  • In people 90 and older, late-onset hypertension may actually protect against Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
  • new brain protein, known as known as TDP-43, has been connected for the first time to Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. People with TDP-43 were shown to be 10 times more likely to have been cognitively impaired at death than those without it.
  • A two-year clinical trial of lifestyle-based intervention, focusing on a group of 1,260 seniors at risk for Alzheimer’s, showed that physical activity, nutritional guidance, cognitive training, social activities and management of heart health risk factors improved cognitive performance.
  • A trial involving family caregivers of people with dementia tested an eight-session psychological support program delivered by graduate students. The intervention significantly reduced caregivers’ anxiety and depression, and this impact lasted for two years.
  • A study, which examined more 145,712 subjects over six years, showed that a reduced risk of dementia was significantly associated with use of diabetes drug, pioglitazone.

For more details, visit the Alzheimer’s Association Website and view program content from the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.  

As you can see from the findings described above, researchers are continuously discovering new treatments and potential cures for Alzheimer’s to lessen the impact on patients’ lives. The complexity of the disease has certainly challenged research efforts; nevertheless, scientists, advocates, and other stakeholders from around the world remain determined to end the Alzheimer’s epidemic.

Medicaid Planning for Alzheimer’s

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is life-changing for both diagnosed individuals and those close to them.  While it’s not easy to think about, if your loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s imperative to make an appointment with a Certified Elder Law Attorney such as myself, to determine who to name to make legal, financial, and medical decisions when your loved one is no longer able to do so. In addition, if your loved one hasn’t done so already, it is also of utmost importance to determine how he or she will pay for long-term care without financially bankrupting the family.

Medicaid Asset Protection

People with Alzheimer’s live on average four to eight years after they’re diagnosed, but some may live 20 years beyond their initial diagnosis. Do you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s? Persons with Alzheimer’s and their families face special legal and financial needs. At the Fairfax and Fredericksburg Medicaid Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from dementia and their loved ones.  If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia or memory loss, we can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs.  We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits. Please contact The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. as soon as possible at our Fairfax Elder Law office at 703-691-1888 or at our Fredericksburg Elder Law office at 540-479-1435 to schedule your appointment for our introductory consultation.

Niche Living for Hippies, Academics, and More

Q. I recently organized a BBQ for my cousin Mark and his wife Elizabeth, who are retiring and moving in the Fall. As I was flipping zucchini on the grill, I heard them talk about the community they will be moving to, and trust me, it doesn’t sound like your typical senior community.

Mark and Elizabeth are unlike many people I know in their early 60′s, in that they are extremely fit and active. They found a community for active seniors like themselves. This makes me wonder. My wife and I are around the same age as them, and are both into gardening and vegetarian living. What type of other niche communities are available for us and friends with varying interests?

A. Seventy-eight million baby boomers are in the process of retiring, which means that there will be a rising demand for quality housing for an aging population. And like your cousins, many retirees are looking to break away from what is “normal” when it comes to housing. Therefore, senior housing communities are changing to keep up with their residents, most of whom are not looking for the “same old” senior housing options.

Niche senior communities or affinity retirement communities are a growing trend among seniors who want to spend their retirement among like-minded individuals who share a particular chosen passion – from gardening to dance, from motorcycle enthusiasts to hippies.  The most successful niche retirement communities are the ones where the residents engage over shared interests, professions, or lifestyle. Many of the facilities offer physical therapy and other amenities to address residents’ changing health needs as they get older. Below are some examples:

  • Art: In North Hollywood, California, the NoHo Senior Arts Colony offers residents a gallery, art and dance studios, a theater-style clubhouse, and numerous classes in art and other creative activities.
  • Health enthusiasts: At Fox Hill, in Bethesda, Maryland, residents can take advantage of a gym, a full-service spa, three health-conscious gourmet restaurants, an organic herb garden, an indoor golf range, a putting green, outdoor walking trails, water aerobics, personal training, a swimming pool with electronic lifts, and onsite physical therapy.
  • Country Music: In Franklin, Tennessee, the Crescendo at Westhaven is being built to offer activities designed to appeal to fans of country music or to country musicians who have retired. It will have a theater for live performances and a sound booth with recording capabilities.
  • Academics: University-based retirement communities (UBRCs) are available for residents who often have a university connection, such a retired professors. Residents can take college courses and participate in campus life. The Village at Penn State  is an example of a successful UBRC.
  • Aviators: Spruce Creek Fly-In is a community in Port Orange, Florida, just a few miles south of Daytona Beach. Built around a training facility used by the Navy in the mid-1970s, Spruce Creek was formed by a group of aviators from Atlanta and is home to retired pilots and others who enjoy flying.
  • Astronomy: Chiefland Astronomy Village in Chiefland, Florida is designed for astronomy enthusiasts. The village’s skies aren’t affected by light pollution as much as some other spots and nearly every home has a built-in telescope.
  • LGBT: Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, California, offers community services and events that cater to the LGBT comunity.
  • Hippies: Rocinante community (no website) in Summertown, Tennessee, is designed for aging hippies. All residents have similar cabins and similar attitudes about nudity and toxin-free living, and they prefer to live in a low-impact, earthy manner, as many did in the 1960s.

For some Americans approaching retirement, choosing the right place to grow old is less about golf and weather than about finding neighbors who share their attitudes and interests.  Due to their popularity, housing experts say more niche communities are likely to make their way to market. However, niche senior communities are not for all retirees. Most seniors want to age in place — living in the same community where they have resided for many years — or at least in a community that is close to family. And most seniors don’t want to live in a community with narrow interests.  Lastly, many seniors may not be active enough for these niche communities, and although they might like to find neighbors with shared interests, they may need more help than a niche community can provide. Even those who do choose a niche community in their 60s may eventually “age out” of these facilities due to health concerns and need to relocate to more traditional living options.  For other non-traditional housing options, please read our blog post, Non-Traditional Living Options for Seniors.

What happens when a niche community or other non-traditional living option is no longer enough to meet your needs? Nursing homes in Northern Virginia cost $10,000-$14,000 a month – a catastrophic expense for most families. So regardless of whether there is a village community or other alternative senior housing option in your area, it is always prudent to plan ahead in the event that assisted living or nursing home care is needed in the future.  Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection  is the process of protecting your assets from having to be needlessly “spent down” in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Learn more at The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Virginia Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website, or by coming to one of our educational workshops.  Need asset protection or housing assistance now?  Call us to make an appointment for an introductory consultation:

  • 703-691-1888 for Fairfax Medicaid Planning or anywhere else in Northern Virginia;
  • 540-479-1435 for Fredericksburg Medicaid Planning or anywhere in Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George, Prince William, or other surrounding counties;
  • 1-800-399-FARR for Medicaid Asset Protection anywhere in Virginia, DC, or Maryland.

Evan Farr Selected for Inclusion in Best Lawyers 2015

Evan Farr Best Lawyers in  America, D.C., Virginia


Evan Farr, Principal Attorney at The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. is Selected for Inclusion in 2015 Best Lawyers in America and 2015 Washington D.C.’s Best Lawyers

Fairfax, VA – July 16, 2014 – Certified Elder Law Attorney Evan H. Farr of The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. (, has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2015 Best Lawyers in America and 2015 Washington, D.C.’s Best Lawyers. Best Lawyerscompiles its lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting thousands of peer-review surveys. The lawyers honored have received particularly high ratings in these surveys, illustrating a high level of respect among their peers.

A listing in Best Lawyersis widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. For more than three decades, Best Lawyerslists have earned the respect of the profession, the media, and the public, as a reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. And, for the first time this year, Best Lawyers will be publishing, Washington, D.C.’s Best Lawyers, as well, showcasing all of the best lawyers in the District of Columbia metro area for 2015.

In a congratulatory letter to Mr. Farr on receiving both honors, Manny Candal, Legal Media Specialist for Best Lawyers said, “This prestigious recognition is a direct result of your continued hard work and dedication to your practice. Best Lawyers is the world’s most selective and highly regarded directory of attorneys and their inclusion is something to be truly proud of.”

About Evan H. Farr, Certified Elder Law Attorney*

Evan Farr is widely recognized as one of the leading Elder Law attorneys in the United States and one of foremost experts in the Country in the field of Medicaid Asset Protection and related Trusts. Evan Farr has been quoted or cited as an expert by numerous sources, including the Washington Post, Newsweek Magazine, Northern Virginia Magazine, Trusts Estates Magazine, The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the American Bar Association, and has been featured as a guest speaker on numerous radio shows, including WTOP and Washington Post Radio. Evan has been named by as one of the top 5% of Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys in Virginia every year since 2007, and in the Washington, DC Metro Area every year since 2008. In 2011, Evan was named by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the top attorneys in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area, and was named in Newsweek Magazine as one of the top attorneys in the country. Evan is a nationally renowned author and frequent educator of attorneys across the U.S. As an expert to the experts, Evan has educated tens of thousands of attorneys across the country through speaking and writing for numerous national legal organizations. As an expert to the experts, Evan has educated tens of thousands of attorneys across the country through speaking and writing for organizations such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the American Law Institute-American Bar Association (ALI-ABA), the National Business Institute (NBI), the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (VAELA), the Virginia Bar Association (VBA), Virginia Continuing Legal Education (Virginia CLE) , and the District of Columbia Bar Association.

Evan is the National Best Selling Author of 3 books in the field of Elder Law: How to Protect Your Assets From Probate PLUS Lawsuits PLUS Nursing Home Expenses with the Living Trust PlusTM; Nursing Home Survival Guide, which provides valuable information and guidance to families dealing with the possibility of nursing home care and struggling to make the best decisions for themselves or their loves ones; and Protect Defend, which Evan authored along with a host of other top attorneys across the country. Other publications include Virginia Nursing Home Survival Guide, and numerous articles that have appeared in the popular press, and numerous scholarly publications for the legal profession, including two legal treatises published by and available through ALI-ABA: Planning and Defending Asset Protection Trusts and Trusts for Senior Citizens.

To learn more about Evan Farr, creator of the Living Trust Plus™ Asset Protection Trust, and to learn how you can legally and ethically protect you or your client’s assets from nursing home expenses, visit the Living Trust Plus™ Web site at http://www.LivingTrustPlus.comor the Farr Law Firm’s website at, or call Toll-Free 1-800-399-FARR.

*Virginia has no procedure for approving certifying organizations.



Renee Eder
Director of Public Relations
The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C.
703-691-1888 or 540-479-1435


How to Become Technologically Savvy

Joseph, a retired teacher, recently purchased an iPad based on a recommendation from his grandchildren. He was excited to play games, such as Candy Crush, listen to music, read news articles, and surf the Web when he is out and about. However, he soon recognized that he didn’t know where to start, and the iPad ended up collecting dust. He realized that he needed instruction, and fast, as the technology of the Internet, iPads, and smartphones were like a foreign language to him.

We live in an era where everything, from nursing home quality ratings to getting junk out of your house by selling it on eBay, is online. Nowadays, the best way to stay in touch with busy grandchildren may involve Skyping or texting rather than trying to reach them on the phone. However, according to a recent Pew Research study, only 54% of Americans over age 65 have access to the Internet and among those 77 and older, the proportion drops to about a third.

The same Pew study reveals that “once seniors join the online world, digital technology often becomes an integral part of their daily lives.” The findings suggest that when seniors overcome some of the unique challenges facing them when it comes to technology, they typically become internet users and make visiting the digital world a regular part of their lives. In fact, 79% of older adults surveyed believe that “people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” while 94% agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.” The study also shows that 46% of online seniors (representing 27% of the total older adult population) use social networking sites such as Facebook, and these social network adopters have more persistent social connections with the people they care about.

Joseph, in our example, and many other seniors, are realizing that learning new technology will open up doors for them. Below are some ways you can become educated and make the most of new technology:

  • Senior Net has been teaching seniors about new technology since 1986. Supported in part by tech giants like Adobe, Microsoft, and IBM, as well as local governments and foundations, Senior Net has established about 50 learning centers around the country.
  • The Connections program, developed by the nonprofit Oasis Institute, is funded by grants from ATT. They offer 30 courses in metro areas, including DC, ranging from basics to digital photography and online job-hunting. To accommodate everyone, they keep classes small and of manageable length (two hours, with a break), with lots of repetition and hands-on practice. Workbooks are tailored to seniors — large fonts, multiple illustrations.
  • Another training center, called Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), teaches a range of senior-tailored courses in 70 locations, mostly in New York and DC (including libraries, public schools, senior centers and senior housing developments).  In fact, AARP works with OATS in DC to bring digital training to low-income adults who might otherwise be isolated. Federal stimulus funds have helped OATS build 3,000 computer labs around the country.
  • Social media can be used for staying in touch with friends and family and keeping up with trending topics and news. Knowing how to use social media is possible, using free online training available from GCF.  Classes include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Skype, and even blogging.

Once you become more technologically savvy and are experiencing all that social media has to offer, please follow me and the Farr Law Firm for senior news, as well as information and articles on numerous topics in the fields of Elder Law and Estate Planning, and to keep track of our upcoming educational events. We can be found as follows:

We here at the Farr Law Firm are pleased to see all of the advances in technology available to help improve the quality of life, health, and well-being for seniors.  Now that you know about the benefits of technology and where you can learn more, it is time to plan for your future and for your loved ones. As a Certified Elder Law Attorney, I focus on helping protect seniors and their families by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. Call in anytime at 703-691-1888 in Northern Virginia or 540-479-1435 in the Fredericksburg area to make an appointment for an introductory consultation.

Lessons Learned from Casey Kasem’s Legacy

Q. In May, you wrote about how Casey Kasem’s family was at odds over his care. My family is in a similar situation, but it is not quite as hostile. I don’t always agree with my stepchildren and my husband is in the early stages of dementia. At this point, he is still competent and can still make decisions and do most things for himself – his primary problem is he just forgets a lot of things. I would like him to stay at home with me for as long as possible. However, his children (from his prior marriage) want to move him to an assisted living facility closer to them in the near future, because they are afraid I won’t be able to take care of him since I’m also getting older. What are some lessons we can take away from the Kasem situation, so our situation doesn’t get as contentious as theirs was?

A. Long-time radio personality and “America’s Top 40” superstar Casey Kasem passed away last month at 82. He left Americans with wonderful memories. However, one of his major parting contributions was not related to his radio legacy. It was to remind us of the importance of end-of-life decision-making and proper planning to ensure that wishes are met and families aren’t faced with tough decisions with which they may not agree.

As you may recall from our previous article, before Casey Kasem passed away, his daughter, Kerri Kasem, and his wife, Jean, were in the middle of a court battle regarding his medical care. In his final days, Jean wanted to continue medical care; Kerri and her two siblings from his prior marriage had concluded that care was pointless and should be discontinued.

Mr. Kasem’s debilitating dementia was at a point where he couldn’t eat on his own and his body was rejecting food. Kerri and her siblings didn’t want to see their father suffer any longer, but Jean felt that the stepchildren were trying to hasten their father’s death to expedite distribution of $2 million that would be split between them. Mr. Kasem’s children prevailed in the California courts based on a document Mr. Kasem had signed in 2007. Life support was accordingly withdrawn and Casey Kasem died shortly thereafter.

You can read more of the details to this story on our blog and on the American Bar Association website.

Incapacity Planning

Two important lessons emerge from the Kasem family’s unfortunate experience:

  • Many people make the mistake of assuming that if something should happen to them, family members will simply step in and figure out what to do. The truth of the matter is that, without proper planning, your family must have you declared legally incompetent by a Judge in order to handle your finances. Achieving this can be time consuming and stressful. Instead, you can rely on an Advance Medical Directive. This document conveys the types of medical procedures that you want or do not want to undergo in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to make such decisions on your own.
  • Without an Advance Medical Directive, in most cases the spouse is considered the primary decision maker for medical choices, with the children being secondary. However, spouses are never automatically legal or financial decision-makers for each other. Without a General Power of Attorney in place that designates someone as the financial decision-maker, family members may fight for the right to make legal and financial decisions. Therefore, it is extremely vital that everyone has a General Power of Attorney in place.

Planning in Advance

The added trauma of family squabbles can cause loved ones undue stress in an already difficult situation. Sitting down with your stepchildren and having the caregiving conversation, while your husband can still voice his wishes, can help to ensure that the issues faced by the Kasem family do not happen to yours. Below are some tips about how to break the ice and what to discuss:

  • Use stories such as Casey Kasem as a way to bring up your husband’s long-term care wishes.
  • Make sure that all family members are involved in the conversation about long-term care and end-of-life wishes of your loved one. Since he is still competent, let your husband weigh in on the decisions.
  • Remember, the conversation goes best when it is approached as a partnership or collaboration for what your husband wants and needs.
  • Explain why certain choices are made and ensure that everyone feels included in the process to avoid future problems before they happen.
  • Have an experienced Elder Law Attorney review all legal, financial, and personal documents, if you already have them in place, or get them done if they have not been done in the past few years.  Ensure that all of your father’s wishes are fully documented and that all documentation is up to date.

To ensure your husband’s wishes are met, it is important to start your planning while his mind is still as sharp as possible and his judgment sound, so you are prepared in advance as his dementia progresses. No guarantees, but at least providing your family with directions may prevent a battle such as the one that occurred between Casey Kasem’s daughter and second wife.

 Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection Planning

Nursing homes in Fairfax, Virginia and the rest of Northern Virginia can cost as much as $198,000 per year, while Fredericksburg, Virginia nursing homes and nursing homes in and the rest of Virginia can cost as much as $105,000 per year. Therefore, it is imperative to plan ahead in the event nursing home care is needed in the future. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.  Our firm is dedicated to helping seniors preserve dignity, quality of life, and financial security. 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), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call us at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for an introductory consultation.

Don’t Let Your Mother-In-Law Get Duped- Part 2

Tom, 40, received a call at work and saw “Internal Revenue Service” on his caller ID. He picked up right away and an aggressive man with an accent told him that he owes a large sum of money due to a tax mistake. He was warned that if he doesn’t wire the money to a specific location, he will be arrested and his driver’s license will be revoked. Tom knew it was a scam, so he told off the caller and threatened to call the police. When he hung up, he pondered whether his 75-year-old mother or his 83-year-old mother-in-law, who are both very trusting, would have known it was a scam. Chances are, they may have complied with the man’s request.

Seniors lose billions a year to scams, including phony lottery and sweepstakes seeking upfront fees to enter or collect; government impostors posing as reps from Social Security and Medicare; the grandparents scam, in which a grandchild is supposedly in deep trouble; offers for free or discount medications (including anti-aging drugs) or medical equipment; and credit card fraud and investment schemes. There are also a few recent ones that the FBI and state government offices are issuing warnings about, involving deeds and tax refunds. See below for more details on the top scams to look out for:

    • IRS Tax Scams: The Internal Revenue Service recently issued its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, which can include pervasive telephone scams, such as the one in our example, false promises of free money from “inflated refunds,” and others as listed on the IRS Website.Taxpayers should be on the lookout for tax scams using the IRS name,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The IRS has a special section on dedicated to identity theft issues and other scams, which includes YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and an assistance guide. For victims, the information includes how to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. For other taxpayers, there are tips on how taxpayers can protect themselves against identity theft.
      • Charity scams. Although the most lucrative charity cons now involve fake charities that spring up following a natural disaster, those alleging to benefit disabled military veterans and active-duty personnel remain popular hoaxes. Others include phony charities purporting to aid sick children, police and firefighters. So beware: Historically, military-related charity scams tend to increase around Independence Day, along with Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Before donating — especially when contacted by telephone — know how to check out a charity’s legitimacy.
      • Online greeting card scams. Fraudulent online greeting cards  unleash malware to give cyber crooks remote access to your files, online banking accounts and passwords for possible identity theft, or enlist your computer as a spam-sending “botnet.” Keep in mind that whenever you receive an email promising an electronic greeting card, don’t click on embedded links — especially if the sender is an unnamed “friend.” Even if you do recognize the sender’s name, realize that legitimate e-cards will have a confirmation code, which you can enter at the card company’s website to read the card.
      • Deed Scam: Be cautious of companies offering to sell you a copy of the deed to your home. Homeowners throughout the state of Virginia have been receiving official looking letters, often titled as a “Deed Processing Notice,” that offer to sell them a copy of their deed for $83. The letters specify that homeowners must comply by a specific date. Often these letters are received shortly after you’ve purchased your house or refinanced your mortgage. “Even though these letters look like official notices, they are actually solicitations and should be treated as such,” Attorney General Herring said. You should never need to pay to get a copy of your recorded deed, because you always get the original deed back within a few months after closing – directly from the Settlement Agent who handled your closing. Read our blog post entitled “Beware of Deed Scam” for more details.
      • Sweepstakes and lottery scams: Mailed sweepstakes or lottery scams often request upfront payment for taxes, insurance or other fees to “collect” a prize that never arrives. The inside of the envelope often features images of American flags, eagles and even a  “Don’t tamper with under federal penalty” notice to suggest these letters are “from” the U.S. Postal Service. Such patriotic symbols are purposely used by scammers to increase the odds that recipients will open the envelope and take the bait.
      • Using Fraudulent Legal Documents: Many scammers cloak their actions in legal authority, procuring a power of attorney or will or other legal document giving them access to a senior’s property. They get seniors to sign these documents by lying, intimidation, or threatening of the seniors. To ensure that this does not happen, make sure that your documents are done in a safe and ethical manner by a Certified Elder Law Attorney, such as myself. Make her aware that any other estate planning or incapacity documents presented as hers are not authentic.

Of course, there are plenty of other scams out there, including advance-fee loans, fake checks and identity theft. Read the first part of this article, “Don’t Let Your Mother-In-Law Get Duped” for more details. In addition, you can visit the FBI Common Fraud Schemes Web page or the Better Business Bureau Scam Stopper Web page for more details and be sure to report any scams to the Better Business Bureau.

How can you help a loved one steer clear of scams without hurting their feelings? Here are five approaches that might work, from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

1. Don’t just tell your parent to hang up or throw out the letter. Have a talk about why. Explain that “you can’t win a contest you didn’t enter,” or “you never have to pay fees to collect lottery winnings,” or “Government agencies don’t make unsolicited phone calls and never ask for personal information, because they’ve already got it on file.”

2. Don’t shame or blame. Remind them what they taught you decades ago: Don’t trust strangers — especially those seeking personal information and money.

3. Try reverse psychology. If you become aware that an aged parent is playing a sweepstakes or making a “double your money” investment, ask how you can do the same. Psychologists say this tactic sometimes prompts a warning — your parent doesn’t want you to lose money, too. That’s your cue to ask, “Then why do you do it?” This could start a conversation that helps the parent come to terms with the scam.

4. Suggest how others could be protected. Talk with your victimized parents about how their experience could be important for other people facing the same situation: “The authorities are looking for these guys, so maybe you can help others.” This may make them willing to part with the details of what happened.

5.  If you don’t live nearby, ask a trusted neighbor to be your eyes and ears. What kind of mail is coming into the house? Does there seem to be a pattern of scam callers on the phone? These could suggest that your folks are on lists for sweepstakes and “investment opportunities.” These lists are developed and sold among scammers to identify past victims as candidates for future fraud.

Keeping up with scams that are affecting consumers is important. It is also very important to keep up with your planning. If you have not done Incapacity Planning, Estate Planning, or Long-Term Care Planning, or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, please contact The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. as soon as possible at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to schedule your appointment for our introductory consultation.

Happy Independence Day!

The Therapeutic Power of Healing Gardens

Regardless of age or culture, gardens provide numerous psychological, physical, and healing benefits for seniors and veterans. Therapeutic gardens in healthcare settings, such as nursing homes and VA hospitals, are typically created using evidence-based design (EBD) based on the most current research available and have been shown to reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being for residents, patients, and visitors.

Benefits for Seniors and Veterans

Research shows that the measurable benefits of therapeutic gardens in healthcare settings can include lower blood pressure and improved immune functioning, better compliance with treatment protocol, and for veterans, therapy for Post Traumatic Stress. For these reasons, the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAHO) recommends that “All patients and visitors should have opportunities to connect with nature through outside spaces, plants, indoor atriums, and views from windows.”

What makes therapeutic gardens so effective?  

  • Distraction from pain and discomfort:Therapeutic gardens have been shown to distract patients from pain and discomfort. As an example, physicians at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida realized that some patients who could see—they didn’t even have to be in—the hospital garden had less pain, needed fewer medications and had shorter stays than patients without a garden view.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety: Therapeutic gardens provide a respite from stress and anxiety. They reduce mental fatigue and refresh the mind.  In a recent study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery, half had a view of nature and half had a view of a wall. The half with the nature view tolerated pain better, slept better, reported less stress, and spent less time in the hospital.
  • Promoting exercise: Apart from the physical benefits, even mild exercise elevates the mood. Therapeutic gardens offer a desired destination that prompts people to walk there and motivates people to explore once they are there.
  • Promotion of serenity and spiritual well-being: For many people, being in nature and interacting with the natural world brings a sense of peace, tranquility, and feelings of connectedness – with self, others and a higher power. Connectedness is particularly important for seniors, who place staying connected as their top priority in The United States of Aging Survey.
  • Encouraging social interaction: Social support and interaction enhances immune functions, promotes better moods, and produces better treatment compliance. Gardens can encourage this interaction if they are easily accessible to patients, families, and staff and offer groupings of lightweight, moveable chairs.
  • Enhancing a sense of control: Gardens offer a break from the hospital environment, which in itself offers a sense of control. Gardens can enhance a sense of control if they offer a variety of spaces to choose from-some private and some open, some sunny, some shady, some with background sounds, some without, and so forth.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Therapy for Veterans:  Research at the Alnarp rehabilitation garden in Sweden has shown remarkable results for treating Post-Traumatic Stress utilizing both natural environments and a horticultural therapy program. There have been reported cure rates of 80%. Similar programs of natural environments and standard therapy are being developed and evaluated through research at VA facilities.
  • Respite for Caregivers and Family Members:  Therapeutic gardens are intended for a wider audience: not just patients, but visitors, family members, exhausted caregivers, and staff looking for a breather. Some support groups meet in healing gardens.

Therapeutic gardens are not a new phenomenon. In fact, they’ve been around from the Middle Ages to ancient Egypt and Greece to Japan (e.g., Zen gardens). As early as 1879, Friends Hospital in Philadelphia started a program for psychiatric patients who staff noticed were acting calmer after being in the ground’s gardens.

Don’t have a healing garden? Relax! Here’s what you can do:

  1. Create your own garden. It doesn’t need to be big and you don’t need all of the features (water, pathways, private sitting areas) to have a lovely oasis. If you need help, you can hire a landscaper.
  2. Call medical centers and ask if they have gardens. Go visit. If you’re considering a home mini-version, see what you like and what you don’t like. Or just enjoy.
  3. The next time you’re visiting a relative or friend in long-term care, take them outside. If there are gardens and pathways on the grounds, hang out there awhile. Walking around the grounds is good exercise for both of you.

We hope that you and your loved ones will take advantage of the therapeutic healing powers of gardens, whether at home, in a nursing home, or in a VA hospital.

Veteran’s Aid and Attendance

If you or a loved one is a Veteran, I am an Accredited Attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs who understands the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit (for qualifying veterans or their single surviving spouse), and the Medicaid program and the interaction between both benefit programs (please note that I do not work with clients seeking service-connected compensation).  I work with clients to obtain the financial assistance to which they are entitled and enable veterans and their families to afford the type of long-term care that they need, whether home care, adult day care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.

Medicaid Asset Protection Planning

If you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or nearing the need for nursing home care or if you are looking to plan ahead for yourself, call us at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for an introductory consultation.