January 2019 Newsletter

January 2019 Newsletter Image

Too Much Sitting Around is Bad for Your Health

Many of our modern conveniences allow us to sit more than we should. Remote controls, drive through restaurants and banks, and online shopping have replaced getting up to change the TV channel, going into the bank lobby, standing in lines, walking through the mall to shop and buy. Online games have replaced outdoor sports. Even at work, many people simply sit in front a computer screen for eight hours.

All of this sitting is linked to a host of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cancer.

Research shows it’s important to change position often – even standing for one or two minutes every half hour can help. Here are other simple ‘tricks’ to use if you are sitting to much:

  • Pace the room while you talk on the phone.
  • Put your laptop on the kitchen counter for a few minutes at home or get a work station that allows you to sit and stand when you are on the computer.
  • Go into the fast food restaurant to get your meal, or into the bank to deposit a check.

Act now, to keep active into your retirement years.


Technology Update

  • A new product for senior living facilities consolidates social media messages and makes them available on TV. Offered by LifeShare, a box connects to the TV to allow you and your family to stay connected via email, social media, text messaging, pictures and videos using a remote control or wireless keyboard. The device includes access to games, music, weather, news and more.  Messages and videos show up on the TV and pictures automatically go into a slideshow.


  • The latest Apple watch can detect falls and heart problems. Sensors in the watch track a person’s gait and note if it becomes unsteady. If a fall is detected emergency services are alerted after a minute’s grace period – in case the watch is dropped or the wearer is OK. Other sensors monitor the wearer’s heartbeat and send alerts if it’s too fast or slow with a goal of detecting atrial fibrillation. Critics say this feature may create more worry and trips to the doctor or ER than it helps.


Too Much Medicine?

Approximately 21% of medical care is unnecessary, according to physicians who responded to a survey by Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School. This includes prescriptions, tests and procedures.

Overtreatment costs $210 billion in U.S. but it can also cause harm to patients from side effects to unnecessary treatments including surgery as well as stress and anxiety.

Side effects from prescriptions can range from simple dizziness to nausea and more. Sadly, side effects can have a cascading effect in that a doctor may treat a side effect with more medication because he did not realize the symptom was a side effect from a medication. Adding new prescriptions may result in complicated drug interactions. You can see how this snowballs.

Over-testing with x-rays, imaging and scans can lead to worry, stress, more testing and sometimes unnecessary treatments. Even a finding of cancer from a screening test may not warrant treatment depending upon the age of the patient, other conditions and the nature of the cancer itself. Some cancers develop so slowly that an elderly patient may be fine without treatment.

Why do physicians overtreat? Fear of malpractice, pressure from patients and lack of access to a patient’s medical history.

What can you do?

  • Ask your doctor about options before you start a new drug or agree to a procedure ‘Do I need to decide/act today?’
  • Understand the downside of your treatment options – many seniors suffer more from certain  treatments than from the illness.
  • As you grow older, evaluate how you want to live your life and end your life. Would you prefer to be home with your family or in a hospital fighting for every breath? Tell your doctor and your family what you want. Include your wishes in your estate planning documents.


Plan Before Crowdfunding for Someone Who is Disabled

Many of us have been quick to send a few dollars to a Crowdfunding effort for a child who lost a parent or victims of a natural disaster but if you are thinking of doing something similar for a family member or a friend with a disability, make sure you don’t disrupt the person’s benefits.

If a Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid beneficiary has direct access to funds raised through Crowdfunding it is likely that the funds will be considered a countable resource --  even if the campaign was launched for a specific purpose such as buying a vehicle. There really isn’t any way to prevent the recipient from using the money for other things.

If you want to launch a Crowdfunding for someone with a disability, set up a supplemental needs trust for the beneficiary first and then direct the money from the Crowdfunding into the trust account.  Be sure to work with an attorney who has experience with SNTs like the attorneys here at Estate & Elder Law Services. We often work with clients to help them remain eligible for benefits.

Visit our web site to learn more about trust-based planning and give us a call when you are ready to get started. 302-651-0113.  


Doctor’s Office Dementia Tests are Often Wrong

If you’ve been to the doctor lately, you probably were asked to take a simple test to detect early signs of dementia. You might have been asked to look at a picture and make observations or answer a series of questions.

But a new report finds that those ‘fast tests’ often get it wrong – about one-third of the time!

The findings are related to three widely used quick dementia tests: the "Mini-Mental State Examination" (intended to assess mental orientation and verbal memory); the "Memory Impairment Screen" (which tests verbal memory); and "Animal Naming" (which gives patients one minute to quickly name as many animals as they can).

Each test seems to have a different bias such as age, ethnicity or education level.

The study concludes that while quick tests need to be improved, they can still play a role in detecting dementia if the doctor understands the bias with each test AND uses them as a screening tool, not a diagnostic tool.

As a patient, you should be aware that the tests are flawed and understand that a lower score on a quick tests should trigger more complete testing NOT a diagnosis.

In Texas, a Man Blinked His Valid Will

In this case, a man who was in the middle of a divorce was in a serious accident which left him a quadriplegic. In the hospital, he was also intubated so he could not speak. He could only communicate by blinking his eyes to indicate yes or no.

Using the blinking system, his attorney drafted a will for the patient and directed a notary to sign the will for him. After the patient died, his estranged wife tried to probate an earlier will before his sister tried to probate the new will. In a jury trial, the court admitted the new will but awarded the wife nearly $200,000 in attorney’s fees. Both women appealed and the court of appeals affirmed the new will and rejected the wife’s award $200,000.

The will was valid because:

  • Texas law allows a notary to sign for someone who cannot sign for himself. (This is also true in Delaware.)
  • The patient was mentally competent based on: medical records that he did not have a head or brain injury and he was lucid; his attorney’s assertion the man knew his family members and his assets; a doctor’s examination which showed he was able to make decisions.
  • His sister did not exert undue influence, based on the attorney’s statements about his interactions with the patient.

The court determined the wife should not receive $200,000 because she was not acting in good faith.

Your will is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan. If you are ready to begin working with us on both, call 302-651-0113 for an appointment.