Elder law is a very complex area of law because senior citizens often face many unique issues during the course of the aging process. Many seniors will come to need comprehensive medical care, and may require assistance with most of the routine activities of daily living such as bathing themselves or feeding themselves.
If a senior develops conditions like dementia, the senior may require supervision and intensive care by professionals who have experience handling memory issues. Seniors who become incapacitated and who are unable to move around on their own will also need specialized help to avoid bedsores and other health issues that can arise.
Meeting the needs of seniors is difficult even under the best of circumstances, which is why Burlington elder law attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC urge families and individuals to begin planning for the aging process early. Meeting the needs of senior inmates in prison, however, is a whole different issue- and it is one which many prisons struggle with. Now, VT Digger reports on innovative solutions which are being considered which could be helpful in ensuring that older inmates are actually able to get the care that they require.
State Considering Working with Veteran’s Home to House Elderly Inmates
According to VT Digger, there are problems arising because the prison population within Vermont is aging rapidly. The Department of Corrections data reveals that the percent of inmates who are older has close to doubled in the past 11 years. In July of 2014, around 16.1 percent of inmates who were incarcerated in Vermont were aged 50 and up. This is not only double the number as compared with two years prior, but it is 8.9 percent greater than the number of aging prisoners who were incarcerated just a decade ago.
As these inmates get older, their medical needs expand, and prisons are not equipped to provide specialized medical assistance. This is especially true if an inmate develops a severe illness which needs more intensive treatment. To try to address the issues that are arising due to the aging of the prison population, several state officials are considering an alternative approach to keeping these inmates incarcerated.
The option that is being considered is to work with state veterans’ homes to discuss whether it is possible the home could help to find alternative housing options for some of the older inmates who have severe illnesses.
There is a veterans home in Burlington, VT which could be affected by this decision. The home is partially funded by money from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and it also receives its own revenues. However, it does receive several millions of dollars in funding from Vermont, and its budget has been a “frequent target of budget discussions” within the Vermont State house.
Just recently, the Vermont governor proposed providing funding to the nursing home out of the general fund in the amount of $5.9 million. This would be a $1.4 percent increase in the home’s budget as compared with the prior fiscal year.
Members of the administration believe that this taxpayer funded home could potentially provide important assistance with helping senior inmates to get the care they require. However, there are challenges, including the fact the home is limited in the number of beds it could offer because there is a risk of losing funding from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs if at least 75 percent of facility residents are not veterans.
While the discussion is still described as being in “very early stages,” and there is not yet a concrete plan or a concrete timeframe, the discussion does show the need to ensure every senior has his or her healthcare issues addressed.
How a Burlington Elder Law Attorney Can Help
While the state has responsibility for providing a safe living environment and reasonable care for senior inmates, most people have to take matters into their own hands to get the care they require as they age.
A Burlington elder law attorney can provide invaluable assistance with Medicaid planning to secure nursing home coverage and avoid spending down assets. An attorney can also assist you with other important matters related to the aging process, including incapacity planning, choosing a nursing home before one is needed, reviewing nursing home admissions paperwork, and taking action in case of abuse.
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC helps seniors throughout Burlington, Essex Junction, and surrounding areas with a wide variety of issues relating to aging. To find out more about the assistance we can offer in your situation, give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online today.