Good, affordable medical care probably is what you think of first when considering how to care for this nation’s elderly. But, really, that’s only half of the equation. Sound, affordable legal advice is needed, too.
Around the country, a handful of medical centers are partnering law students and practicing attorneys to care for the elderly from a medical and legal standpoint. Lakeside Senior Medical Center in San Francisco and the University of California, Hastings College of Law is one such pairing, The New York Times reports. (http://tinyurl.com/merqdpy)
While most medical-legal partnerships traditionally have focused on children, elder care pairings are found at Wake Forest University, the University of Miami and the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, among other places.
As the American population ages this sort of one-stop shopping centers can be literal medical and financial lifesavers.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported many health problems have an underlying legal component (http://tinyurl.com/m7qskcd). Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions can exacerbate health issues such as asthma. This direct link to the landlord-tenant relationship can be solved when an attorney is on the case.
Besides living conditions, many elderly patients don’t have a living will, advanced care or specified power of attorney documents. In other cases, medical professionals might suspect their patients qualify for benefits they aren’t receiving, such as food stamps. Or perhaps they’re not getting all the Social Security benefits to which they’re entitled.
It’s almost unheard of today for doctors to make house calls, but law school students from Wake Forest and Hastings who are involved in the medical-legal partnerships often find it helps to put their elderly clients at ease. Besides being more comfortable in their own homes, the elderly clients don’t have to carry around all their legal documents when meeting at home.
The students and practicing attorneys have powerful advocates in the legal and medical professions. The American Bar Association and the American Medical Association have passed resolutions supporting medical-legal partnerships as a way to integrate care for vulnerable Americans, including the elderly.
And the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships, whose network has programs in more than 200 hospitals and health centers nationwide, is also a leader in finding help for vulnerable Americans, says Wake Forest. (http://tinyurl.com/krrydfp)
With the vanguard of the Baby Boom generation reaching their 60s and 70s, medical-legal partnerships can help ensure that both sides of equation are taken care of.
We hope this information was useful to you and helps your clients and their families. If you have a specific case or a question, don’t hesitate to call our office. As always, feel free to call us for further advice or to share your ideas.
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