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What Is Elder Care Law?

An attorney may specialize in elder care law.
The laws that govern Medicare and provide affordable health care to seniors are an example of elder care laws.
Elder care law includes federal social services that ensure care for the elderly.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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The World Health Organization (WHO) says that most developed countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of elderly. Elder care law refers to legislation that pertains to the issues faced by elderly people. This includes how they are cared for, the enforceability of agreements that they enter, and how medical insurers treat them. Violations of the legislation that pertains to the elderly may carry civil or criminal consequences depending on the laws that are broken.

Every state in the United States (US) has a body of elder care legislation. These laws are not consistent, however. This means that although there are attorneys who specialize in elder care law, they also tend to further specialize in their state’s body of laws. Even if the specifics of the legislation vary, there are certain topics that tend to be addressed to some degree.

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For example, one of the main objectives of most elder care law is to protect these individuals from the abuse and exploitation of people who have assumed the responsibility as their caretakers. Elderly people can be vulnerable physically, mentally, and financially, making it easy for them to be taken advantage of. To prevent this from happening, there are often regulations outlining standards for health care facilities, assisted living facilities, and the staff at these businesses. If these individuals violate elder care law in certain ways, the result could be a loss of licensing, which would strip them of the ability to provide professional elder care.

Certain regulations address the behaviors of family members who act as caretakers. Elder care law also regulates the relationships between the elderly and individuals who they may be legally engaged with. This includes accountants, trustees, and those with power of attorney In many jurisdictions, for example, agreements and contracts that are entered into by elderly people are deemed unenforceable if they were made under unethical conditions or if they are grossly unfair.

This type of law also addresses what will happen when a person dies. Generally, elderly people are given the right to name an executor of their estate. They can also usually determine how they would like any remaining assets to be used or distributed.

Elderly people usually have more health care issues than younger people. The regulations that direct federal social services such as Medicaid and Medicare can be considered elder care law. Furthermore, this type of law commonly outlines the behaviors of private insurers. A lot of legislation is aimed at preventing insurance companies from unfairly treating individuals who have reached the latter stages of life.

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