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What is the Elder Advocate Movement?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Marty Fogarty with Heartland Law Firm.

What is the Elder Advocate Movement?
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It’s no secret that the elderly are an underserved and often underappreciated portion of the community. The Elder Advocate movement calls for a new standard of treatment, law, and social work to be standardized by the legal industry in order to better care for and value elderly citizens.

The Elder Advocate movement seeks to provide more protection than that of a mechanical court procedure.

Elder advocates seek to make standard the provision of immediate clarity regarding issues of elder care including who will provide care, how that care will be paid for, as well as how to protect and respect an elderly loved one’s dignity and wishes throughout the process.

The elder transition refers to the time in an elderly person’s life when family members must come together to decide how to care for their loved one’s changing needs.

Elder transition usually occurs as a result of elder frailty, which is usually triggered by the sudden appearance of a chronic health issue. Elder frailty could occur in the form of an issue with memory, cognitive function, mobility, or a combination.

During the elder transition, families must figure out how to handle significant changes in the everyday life of an elderly family member due to changes in that family member’s health, income, and/or living situation due to their advanced age. The elder transition can be extremely difficult to navigate, and current legislation does not do enough to help families through the transition, nor do they ensure any standard of treatment for the elder in question.

The Elder Advocate movement seeks to fill in the gaps in the currently fragmented legal and health care systems in regard to the elder transition.

Ideally, elder advocacy seeks to provide families with effective control over the long-term care of an elderly loved one’s transitional journey while allowing them to spend less time managing the day-to-day basic care of their loved one.

Another important element of elder advocacy is allowing a loved one to age in familiar surroundings.

No one should feel alienated or unable to return to their home environment if they wish it, regardless of their age or health. Instead, conditions should be met that create a safe and supportive environment in a familiar, health-conscious surrounding. Making this aspect of the transition smoother can also help to minimize family conflicts, as elder transition can present significant stress to a family and cause strife between family members with differing ideas.

Elder advocacy also allows a family to make informed, intentional choices regarding their loved one’s care.

Rather than feeling stuck with an inflexible list of options which may not be conducive to the specific care needs of their loved one, elder advocacy seeks to inform family members that they have choices, what those choices are, and how to pursue those choices.

Finally, elder advocacy supports the preservation of family wealth.

The cost of care for any individual regardless of age tends to be expensive or at least a considerable financial drain. Elder advocacy encourages and provides for careful financial planning and therefore the preservation of family wealth so the funding of a loved one’s long-term care is ensured through special, preemptive planning.

Many people feel trapped by limited options for the care of a family member due to the current structure of elder transition resources.

While many lawyers refer to themselves as elder law attorneys, there is no specific training a lawyer must undergo to refer to themselves as such. This is why it’s important to understand a lawyer’s stance on elder advocacy to ensure your family is provided with the most effective resources for a loved one undergoing or preparing to undergo the elder transition.

Written by AskTheLawyers.com on behalf of Marty Fogarty with Heartland Law Firm.

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