Older Adult Care and Laws

Learn about important issues for older adults transitioning to a more dependent lifestyle.

The FindLaw articles linked on this page will help you learn about important elder care issues. It also will help you learn about laws for older adults transitioning to a more dependent lifestyle. You'll find questions you can discuss with an older person to determine their medical, financial, and end-of-life needs. You will also learn about the wide range of providers and care plans to fit those needs and the areas of law that address them.

Making the Switch From Independent Living

Watching a friend or loved one deal with the challenges of aging can be difficult, primarily if that person is used to living independently.

If you are a caregiver for an older person who is transitioning to a more dependent lifestyle, there are several issues that you'll want to consider.

  • Some of the leading long-term care planning issues include:
  • Whether the older person can remain in their home or requires nursing home care
  • Whether the person qualifies for Social Security benefits or veteran's benefits
  • Long-term care insurance planning and Medicaid planning/eligibility
  • Financial or daily activity assistance from family members
  • What to look for when searching for an assisted living facility or nursing home
  • Elder abuse in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Avoiding financial scams and financial abuse
  • How to best protect your loved one's medical and financial well-being
  • How to handle health care decisions and financial decisions
  • Preparing estate planning documents (such as a revocable living trust) and advance directives (such as a living will and durable power of attorney)

The articles above can assist you with this process and the emotional decisions that come with it.

Financial Decisions and Medical Care for Aging Parents

There are several unique factors to consider when dealing with a parent with dementia, Alzheimer's, special needs, or other mental incapacity. It is important to have a discussion with your loved one about their end-of-life wishes before your loved one becomes incapacitated.

There are a number of legal documents that allow your loved one to designate financial and medical decisions in advance of incapacitation. For example, a durable power of attorney for health care is a legal document in which a person can name a health care proxy to make medical decisions on their behalf.

If your parent or loved one fails to plan for incapacity and suffers from an injury or illness that renders them incapacitated, a court will have to legally appoint a conservator or guardian. A conservator is generally responsible for making financial decisions on behalf of the beneficiary. A guardian is usually responsible for making daily care decisions on behalf of the beneficiary. Depending on state law, these roles may be filled by the same person. Learn more about the powers of conservatorship and guardianship in these situations.

Long-term care is expensive. Asset protection is an important financial planning tool that can help your parent or loved one ensure their wealth is protected as they get older. If you're concerned about your aging parent's assets and health care costs, a financial planner or estate planning attorney can help your parent prepare for the future and avoid high probate costs. An estate attorney can also help your parent set up a reverse mortgage and determine whether your parent qualifies for senior tax credits. These credits can assist in lowering the costs of estate taxes and long-term care.

Assisted Living Facilities

If an older friend or loved one requires assisted living, starting the process of finding an appropriate facility can be daunting. You should know what to look for when determining whether a facility is a good fit, what costs you can expect, and what you should and shouldn't do when signing a nursing home contract.

If you're concerned about how older adults are treated at nursing home facilities, FindLaw's article on the Nursing Home Reform Act explains residents' rights in detail. Residents always have the right to be free from abuse and informed about all aspects of their care. You will also learn more about residents' rights to raise grievances to a long-term care ombudsman and to have those grievances resolved quickly.


With the range of care options available for older adults, this section will help you tailor an elder care plan for your parent or loved one that meets all of their needs.

Given the many legal matters that can arise when planning for an older adult's long-term care, you should also consider speaking with an estate planning or elder law attorney for legal advice. The articles linked on this page will help you know what issues to raise and questions to ask.

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