May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys – Part 1

May is National Elder Law Month. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys started National Elder Law Month to acknowledge attorneys who support seniors and their families with their planning needs. And while that sounds great, many people still ask, “What do elder law attorneys do?” “May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys” will explore several ways elder law attorneys help seniors and their loved ones.

Elder law attorneys help seniors and their loved ones plan for the possibility of needing long term care. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 10 people age 65 or older has Alzheimer’s dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that this number will double by 2050. Alzheimer’s is also the most expensive disease in the country, with no known cure. In 2017, the average lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia was $341,810.

A diagnosis of dementia can wreak emotional and financial havoc on a family. Elder law attorneys can help discussing options to pay for appropriate care without losing the family home or savings.

The emotional and financial cost to family caregivers is also quite alarming. 83% of all caregiving comes from family members, friends, or unpaid caregivers. 30-40% of family caregivers suffer from depression.  In 2011, a MetLife study estimated that women caregivers lose over $324,000 in lost wages and social security benefits over their lifetime. Male caregivers lose an estimated $283,000 in lost wages and social security benefits over their lifetime.

Family caregivers also need a their own legal plan. Elder law attorneys also work with family caregivers to make sure they have legal documents in place, if their health fails, or if they lose their jobs.

If it’s not in writing, it won’t be honored.

Elder law attorneys work with seniors to understand what should happen if they can no longer make financial or health care decisions. For example, if mom develops dementia, who will she want to have authority to access her bank account and pay the bills? What type of care does she want if her dementia advances to the point that she can’t communicate her wishes? Does she want to live at home as long as possible? Does she want a private room if she’s in a facility? These are just a few questions that elder law attorneys discuss with clients, which then get put into legal documents so that mom’s wishes will be fulfilled.

My loved one is in the hospital and can’t come home – now what?

It can be very stressful for a spouse and children when a parent becomes ill and can no longer live at home safely. It can also be very expensive, putting the family’s home and savings at risk.

Elder law attorneys help families find and pay for the best long-term care possible. Unfortunately, 24 hour care at home or in a facility can cost families thousands of dollars a month. Therefore, it is important to look at other funding sources, like Medicaid or Veterans Benefits. Elder law attorneys help families explore options, and make the best decision for the loved one needing the care.

We will continue exploring how elder law attorneys help seniors and their families in Part 2 of “May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys.” In the meantime, if you or a loved one needs help, we’ll be happy to talk with you. Please give us a call today. 


Medicare and Medicaid: Unlocking the Mystery

Medicare and Medi-Cal have long been a mystery to many consumers. In fact, it can baffle and confuse even some of the smartest citizens. Like me, you might have thought, “I don’t need to worry about this right now.” However, it is never too early to gain a little understanding and awareness that just might help you help an aging loved one or yourself down the road. As the saying goes, “Time flies.”, and you will be there sooner than you think. Let’s break it down and learn some of the differences and basics of Medicare and Medi-Cal to unlock the mystery.



Medicare is a health insurance program provided through the federal government. To receive Medicare, a person must be 65 years old or older or have a severe disability. For a disabled person under the age of 65 to be eligible for Medicare, they must have received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for two years. To be eligible for Medicare, a person must have Social Security retirement benefits or Social Security disability benefits. Because Medicare is run and administered by the federal government, it is uniform from state to state. If a person meets Medicare eligibility requirements, they can receive Medicare no matter their income or assets. Costs for Medicare are based on the recipient’s work history. This means that costs are determined by the amount of time a person paid Medicare taxes. These costs, like all insurance, include premiums, copays, and prescriptions.


Medicare can be confusing because there are four parts. The commercials talk about Parts A, B, C, D. What does it all really mean? Parts A, B, and D can be somewhat simplified. Part A is hospital insurance, Part B is medical insurance, and Part D is prescription drug coverage. Parts A and B are covered in Original Medicare offered by the government.


Part C is often called the Medicare Advantage Plan. This is a private health plan. The Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Part C plan are required to include the same coverage as Original Medicare, but usually also include Part D as well.


It is important to do your homework on these plans to find what works best and is most cost effective for you.



Medicaid is a health care assistance program of the federal government. It is administered by the individual states, and Medicaid is called Medi-Cal in California. Medi-Cal is for people who cannot afford to pay for care on their own. It is based on income and assets, and is available to people who belong to one of the eligible groups: Children, people with disabilities, people over age 65, pregnant women, and the parents of eligible children. Seniors who require nursing home care can qualify for Medi-Cal and only pay a share of their income for the nursing home. Medi-Cal then pays the rest.


Dual Eligibility

A person can be eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal, and can have both. The two programs work together to help the recipient best cover the expenses of health care. For example, Medicare costs include premiums, copays, and deductibles. Full Medi-Cal benefits can cover the costs of Medicare deductibles and cover the 20% of costs not covered by Medicare. Medi-Cal can also help with Medicare assistance and may cover costs of premiums for Part A and/or Part B.


Although Medi-Cal and Medicare can be quite confusing, it is important to know the basics.


We assist seniors and their families qualify for Medi-Cal with a number of different planning tools. If you would like to discuss Medi-Cal, please call us now.


If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.

3 Tips for Traveling with Disabilities

Traveling with disabilities can seem like an overwhelming task. However, it doesn’t have to be, if the right research, planning, and preparations are done ahead of time. There are even travel agencies that specialize in disabled travel. The most important thing is to be prepared. Here are some tips to consider in advance of traveling if you or a loved one has physical limitations:

1. Consult with a Physician

If you have disabilities and are planning to travel, one of the first steps is to discuss the travel plans with your physician. Be sure to give the doctor an accurate picture of what the trip will entail. In many cases, the physician can help plan for medical needs while traveling. The doctor can prescribe certain measures to help make travel easier. The doctor can also provide you with a medical statement for emergency situations. Keep your doctor’s name and phone number available while traveling. You should also identify what medical care is available at the travel destination. Be sure to carry extra medication in case of unforeseen delays. Keep all medication in carry-on bags to prevent loss.

2. Know Your Rights regarding Traveling with Disabilities

When planning for accessible travel, it is important to know your rights. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has certain procedures for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. It is important to understand these procedures before going through airport security. The Air Carrier Access Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also provide information regarding the laws for those traveling with disabilities. Unfortunately, many airline, cruise, and theme park employees don’t know the law regarding those with disabilities. It’s always best to obtain the information ahead of time.

3. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is the most important tip and encompasses all the other tips. One easy way to plan ahead is to hire a travel agency that specializes in accessible travel. These agencies can plan for the specific needs of the traveler with disabilities. If you wish to plan your own travel, then begin to plan early. First, research and create an itinerary for your trip. Websites can help you obtain information about accessibility and services offered. Even with websites, you should call to schedule any necessary accommodations that you need, so that each stop on the itinerary enjoyable. Remember to be detailed when describing your disability, so that everyone understands the limitations accurately.

Planning ahead for flights can also be very helpful for people with disabilities. If possible, avoid connecting flights: Fly direct to the destination. You should also check in with the flight attendant before landing to make an exit plan. Once you’ve disembarked, if a wheelchair is necessary, make sure you have set up accessible ground transportation to and from the airport. All of this can be done ahead of time to help ensure more relaxing travel for everyone involved in the adventure.

The experience of travel can be smooth and enjoyable with the right information and planning. Of course, even the best plans can experience turbulence along the way, but planning and documenting in advance can help minimize any bumps along the way. Just remember, after calling and booking for the special needs, call again and touch base 24-48 hours in advance of your trip to ensure all appropriate accommodations are in order.

Unique Health Challenges Faced By Veterans

The United States veteran population is some 20 million strong, many of whom face health challenges different from non-Veterans. Due to their military training, Veterans have a well-defined culture. This culture is strong on values, codes of conduct, respect of superiors, and customs, to name a few. Due to this culture, Veterans face different health challenges that family, friends, and health professionals need to be aware of.

Advances in medicine have allowed many more Veterans to survive once-fatal injuries. However, this often comes at the cost of mental health. A successful transition from the battlefield to civilian life rests on being able to spot the many health issues Veterans face, and assisting them in getting the help they need.

A study titled “US Veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awareness,” published in the US National Library of Medicine and available here, identifies several health issues specific to United States Veterans:

Mental Health Disorders

33% of Veterans are diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder. From 2006 to 2010, 2.1 million Veterans received mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Only about one-third of those diagnosed with a mental health issue actually seek treatment. Often, Veterans feel embarrassed or shame about needing mental help. It is important for family and friends to help change this stigma, and ensure Veterans get the help they need.

Substance Use Disorders

The extreme stress of military service causes Veterans to often seek out a vice. Such vice may take many forms, such as  alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. A 2013 study titled, “Enhancing veteran-centered care: a guide for nurses in a non-VA setting” found that both cigarette and alcohol consumption is higher among Veterans than the general population. Medical research finds that treatment of an underlying condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reduces tobacco and alcohol consumption in some Veterans. Sometimes, long-term care is required.


PTSD results from directly or indirectly experiencing a traumatic event. Military personnel are nearly four times as likely to be diagnosed with PTSD. The American Psychiatric Association diagnoses PTSD with the presence of four symptoms: intrusive symptoms (flashbacks), avoidance of reminders (isolation), negative thoughts and feelings, and exaggerated reactivity symptoms. Social support is a large facet of the treatment plan for Veterans with PTSD.


Depression is among the most treatable mental health disorders that Veterans face. Although likely underdiagnosed, the National Alliance on Mental Illness states that the depression rate for Veterans is 14%, but the treatment success rate is between 80-90%. If you know a Veteran who you believe is suffering from depression, it is vital that you encourage them to get help. There is nothing “weak” or embarrassing about seeking help, and depression is often treatable.

Veterans often have a challenging time acclimating to civilian life after being at war for any length of time. However, providing them with a strong support system, along with all of the help available to them through private care and the Department of Veterans Affairs, they can experience a smooth transition to civilian life.

We help Veterans and their families plan for long-term care.  If you would like to learn more or would like help, please contact us now.

Alzheimer’s Disease: 3 Tips for Caring for a Loved One

Alzheimer’s is a complicated and overwhelming disease.

Over time, the disease can change a loved one into a seemingly different person. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is a challenging task. If you’re a caregiver, it’s important to be well educated about the disease and to ask for help and information whenever necessary. The disease manifests differently in different people, so it is important to be attentive to the symptoms and behaviors your elderly loved one exhibits. This will help you find the best possible way to create a positive and caring living environment.

If housing becomes an issue, an elder law attorney from Crider Law Group can help you explore all your options, and can create the best plan for you and your loved one. Below are some tips for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

1. Create a Safe Environment for your loved one with Alzheimer’s

During the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one may be able to continue living on their own. Even then, it’s important to keep a very close watch on them and be aware of when that begins to change. As Alzheimer’s progresses, you should take precautions around the home to keep your loved one safe from falls. You may need to remove obstacles around the home and install ramps to make it easier for the elderly person to get around. You may also want to install locks on substances like alcohol and things like guns that can be dangerous to your loved one. Think about fire safety as well. Hot water is another potential danger. As Alzheimer’s progresses, you may need to lower the thermostat so that the water cannot get as hot and potentially burn the senior.

2. Keep Frustration to a Minimum

When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, this is often coupled with a lot of frustration. A person with Alzheimer’s disease can experience frustration with forgetting to do things they were once able to do. They experience frustration because they struggle to follow and understand tasks and communication. Frustration can also come from loss of independence. It is important to recognize these frustrations and take steps to reduce the frustration. Provide your loved one with choices whenever possible. Allow your loved one to help with tasks they are capable of, even if it takes them longer that it may take you, or longer than they were able to do it before their diagnosis. Make directions and requests simple. When your loved one needs to focus, eliminate distractions. Create a calm environment. Be patient with your loved one and take time to allow them to do tasks.

3. Work at Communication with your loved one with Alzheimer’s

Communication often becomes difficult when an elderly loved one has Alzheimer’s disease. This is an area that takes patience. When communicating with your loved one, they may get discouraged if they can’t understand you or you can’t understand them. Always maintain eye contact with your loved one when communicating. Keep communication simple and to the point, but positive. When your loved one is attempting to communicate with you, be sure to allow them to talk. Be careful not to interrupt or try to complete their sentences. This can add more frustration. Keep conversations going with your loved one as long as possible by encouraging them and truly listening to concerns. Use physical touch, such as holding a hand or touching a shoulder, to communicate with your loved one. Don’t take outbursts personally. The illness causes you loved one to do and say things they may not normally do or say. Always be aware of your tone and keep it kind.

Alzheimer’s is a disease with many varying characteristics. It can wreak havoc on the person our loved one once was. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be frustrating and difficult. However, patience is the overarching quality that a caregiver must possess to deal with an elderly person with Alzheimer’s disease in a loving and positive manner.

Crider Law Group can help take the guesswork out of planning for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Contact us now if you’d like to get started.

750 F Street, Suite 2
Davis, CA 95616

333 University Ave, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95825

3017 Douglas Blvd, Ste 300
Roseville, CA 95616

288 Pearl Street
Monterey, CA 93940

San Antonio
18756 Stone Oak Pkwy, Ste 200
San Antonio, TX 78258

We operate on an appointment-only basis other than our Davis office.

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