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Elder Law Glossary

Living Will
A living will is an advanced medical directive used to tell your family and medical providers what end-of-life medical decisions you have made if you are unable to convey them at a particular time, such as whether you want them to use life support for you if necessary. For example, you must execute a living will if you don’t want to be hooked up to machines if you are ever in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma. 

Elder Abuse
Elder abuse and neglect includes physical, emotional and financial abuse of an elderly person. 
Physical abuse and neglect and emotional abuse may be in the form of threats, hitting, slapping, withholding food and medicine.  The signs of physical and emotional elder abuse are malnutrition, dehydration, bruises, cuts, sores, scars, sprains, broken bones, frequent falls and injuries, injuries that don’t heal, emergency room visits and changes in behavior such as depression, anxiety, withdrawal, angry outbursts, fear, shaking and rocking.  Financial abuse includes forcing or manipulating an elderly person to give away money and/or stealing money or belongings.  Signs of financial abuse include unexplained changes in estate planning documents, a new friend with unusual interest in the elderly person, large ATM withdrawals, changes in financial activity the elderly person can’t explain, changes in bank or investment account ownership or beneficiaries, unusual charges on credit cards or debit cards.

Incapacity/Disability
An elderly person is “incapacitated” or “disabled” if they are unable to manage day-to-day affairs such as paying bills, managing assets and making financial decisions.  In addition, an elderly person may be deemed to be incapacitated or disabled if they cannot provide informed consent for medical treatment.

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