Legal Protections for Seniors
Aging Life Care Professionals® … coordinating services to optimize health and quality of life.
The Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA), formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, is an organization of practitioners whose goal is the advancement of expert assistance to older adults and their families. ALCA is committed to maximizing the independence and autonomy of elders and strives to ensure the highest quality and most cost-effective health and human services. Members help older persons and their families cope with the challenges of aging through education, advocacy, counseling, and service delivery.
While seniors and individuals who are disabled have many rights, both as US residents in general and also as discreet populations, such rights are meaningless unless they are protected through legal processes and by access to legal advocates. Because of health and cognitive declines that often increase with age, older Americans can be particularly vulnerable and are in need of legal support.
Areas where such protection and support are needed are as follows:
Protection against fraud:
Seniors as a group are often targeted and become victims of fraud from such things as fraudulent charities, telemarketing, identity theft, unneeded and overpriced work on one’s house, and other forms of financial theft.
Protection from elder abuse:
Elder abuse comes in many forms: financial, physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, and neglect. Such abuse occurs in a variety of settings, from one’s own home to adult homes to nursing home facilities. As per statistics developed by NAELA (National Association of Elder Law Attorneys), 10% of seniors and 20% of nursing home residents suffer from some form of abuse.
Help in accessing benefit programs which often require wading through a maze of daunting forms and procedures. Benefit programs for seniors and those with disabilities range from federal to state to local programs, and include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, disability, programs offered by the Veterans’ Administration, subsidies for housing, food, heat, and health insurance, etc. But many individuals find that they cannot access these programs or they find that they receive less than what they are entitled to, and are unable to advocate for themselves.
Help in dealing with health insurance companies when legitimately due coverage is incorrectly denied.
Protection against ageism in obtaining goods and services.
Understanding legal documents from banks, insurance companies, the IRS, and other agencies.
Protection of one’s right to reasonable self-determination when cognitive functions are starting to decline that is balanced with the good and safety concerns of the individual.
Protection of legal rights against the growing use of binding arbitration that tends to favor the institution over the consumer.
In light of the above problems, ALCA supports:
Establishing laws and regulations to protect the rights of seniors and those with disabilities across federal, state and local levels with strong and consistent enforcement mechanisms.
- Providing federal and state funding to support programs that are engaged in senior legal advocacy.
- Supporting comprehensive and well-formed durable powers-of-attorney that are designed to safeguard the rights of the frail senior and prevent improper use.
- Improving and adequately funding adult protective services throughout the country and creating best practices models to be shared among all agencies.
- Establishing mandatory reporting laws for certain professionals who become aware of possible abuse during the normal interaction with their clients.
- Establishing humane rational laws and regulations in dealing with guardianship issues that provide minimum intrusion into the rights of the incapacitated individual in order to establish plans to keep the individual safe.
- Promoting educational awareness to the public and to practitioners in the field regarding these issues.
- Improving understanding of these issues through formalized studies.
Resolutions Approved by the ALCA Board of Directors October 27, 2017.