Mental Capacity — Losin It?

Click below to view the presentation I recently gave at the Charlottesville Senior Center on Mental Capacity and Surrogate Decisions Makers.

It was a fun day, too bad you can’t see the audience, they were very engaged and active.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Swider, of Care is There for doing the video/sound for me!


Gotta Take Dad’s Keys Away From Him!

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times:

“Dad shouldn’t be driving! He’s going to kill someone. We have to get him off the road.”

“Mom’s dangerous on the road! I have to make her stop driving.”

hands on the wheel
Seniors Driving

“I have to take Pop’s car keys.”

Inevitably, a huge war ensues.  Its a pitched battle because the driver, whatever their actual ability to drive may be, feels their final freedom, the independence of going where they want, when they want, is being challenged.

Truth be told, in Virginia anyway, only one authority can revoke a person’s privilege to drive and that’s the folks that gave it to them originally. Yup. The Department of  Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Fortunately, for all the worried adult children (or spouses or other loved ones) out there that want their parents safely off the road, there is a way to alert DMV that attention needs to be paid to a potentially dangerous driver.

You can file a “Medical Review Request” with DMV and they will see that the driver is made to have a medical review and his or her doctor will have to report to DMV on the driver’s fitness to drive.  Best of all, you can submit the request to DMV anonymously!

The form is available in PDF format online and you download it here:

Or if for some reason that link doesn’t bring it up, try googling:  Virginia DMV  MED3

One thing is for sure. The harder you try to take someone’s keys away, the harder they’re going to dig their heels in to retain their driving privileges.  Preserve the peace in your house and let the DMV be the bad guy!


BREAKING: New “Nursing Home Compare” System released by

This has always been a useful tool, but it has recently be substantially upgraded and now provides much better data in easily navigatible screens. You can search for nursing facilities by any number of means, state, county, within a specific zip code or by name. You can compare several at a glance and you can “drill down” to very detailed information INCLUDING the most recent survey and inspection reports! Extremely useful tool, Check it out here:


Outrageous Position of Some Law Firms on Guardian/Conservator Fees

I am shocked and appalled at the position of some law firms who believe they can bill outrageous firm billing rates for guardian and conservatorship work.   In Virginia, the law very clearly states that billing for such services must be “reasonable” and the Judges of Virginia have even published very distinct guidelines as to what “reasonable” means. Typically not more than 5% of the estate being “conserved” over a period of time (starting at 1% in the first year, .75 the next and so on).

Read about the recent case in Northern Virginia that has some Elder Attorney’s up in arms.

I often get discouraged when my professional colleagues pull stunts like this one in Northern Virginia – it makes a bad name for all of us. Personally the “reasonable” fees are quite sufficient for me and I am in no way “chilled” by the ruling in Northern Virginia.


ObamaCare and Medicare — what’s the REAL Impact?

Medicare — as we know it

Now that the dust is beginning settle, and hopefully, some of the political posturing will subside, its time to look at what is actually in “Obamacare” (or, more officially, the Affordable Care Act) Most of us in the field of Elder Law are concentrating our energies on what the law does with regard to Medicare. Way back in February of 2011, then-adminstraor of CMS (Centers for Medicaid/care) Dr. Donald M. Berwick testified before congress as to what the implementation of the law would do and gave special attention to Medicare and the improvements we could expect.  Here’s a transcript of Dr. Berwick’s testimony. Very readable. I recommend it!