In some ways, the easiest part of
is preparing the documents necessary to assist our clients. But recognizing and understanding the global needs of an elderly client is essential to be certain that the documents we draft and the advice we provide meets the client’s needs. Toward that end, we regularly immerse ourselves in a variety of non-legal issues relating to seniors which help guide our compassionate and careful representation of families with elder law issues, including the medical, social, and psychological matters which relate to older citizens.
For example, I recently attended, and brought back to my MLO colleagues, a program at Villanova University by its nursing faculty which addressed risk factors for re-hospitalization of elderly citizens. Once these risk factors are known and identified, families are in a far better position to attend to the needs of elderly family members and friends upon release from the hospital in order to provide them with adequate care at home and thus avoid often traumatic re-hospitalization.
Some of these risk factors are well known, but others may not be intuitive. Among the most significant risk factors are over age 80, single marital status, living alone, inadequate nutrition, multiple medications (five or more), compliance with treatment, a recent fall, mental health issues, multiple diagnoses, vascular or liver disease, and functional disabilities. Researchers have found that after hospitalization, patients with less than three nursing visits in the first two weeks after hospitalization are at an increased risk of re-hospitalization and death within 90 days. As a result, researchers are now emphasizing the need for several nursing visits in the home in the first two weeks after hospitalization in order to adequately monitor the elderly patient's health status and the post-hospital treatment regime.