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Mark Gilfix Article on Technology Innovation and Long Term Care in The Elder Law Report

Mark Gilfix has been keeping a close eye on innovation in the long term care space, and recently attended the Aging 2.0 “Optimize” Summit in San Francisco. He wrote an article sharing his insights with the The Elder Law Report, one of the top national publications for attorneys in the field. While at the Summit, he discovered many innovative and new start-up companies that were poised to assist seniors now and in the future. With technology moving as fast as it is, many of the offerings at Aging 2.0 “Optimize” are the next generation of assisted living concepts designed specifically for seniors.

One company that stood out at the Summit was Akili Interactive Labs – Cognitive Enhancement Video Games – developers of several video games focusing on cognitive enhancement with the ability to help heal the minds of those who face cognitive decline. The possibility also exists that these carefully crafted games may slow or halt memory decline for those with mild dementia.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a prominent neuroscientist from the University of San Francisco, demonstrated how the games could assist in helping those in their 80s to be as proficient and efficient as those in their 20s. This would be a powerhouse tool for the users and their families.

Some other companies that stood out to Gilfix:

Rendever – Virtual Reality in Elder Care – offers those who receive care and those who provide it with the ability to partake in cognitive stimulation that allows them to go anywhere – such as back to visit their childhood home or travel to a favorite place or country. Studies have shown that virtual trips greatly enhance the overall well-being of the participant. Software like this has the potential to be a game changer in improving the lives of geographically and socially isolated clients.

Silvernest – Vetted Roommate Matching Service for Seniors may also be revolutionary for older adults who have space in their home, would like to make extra income and wish to have a roommate or a companion. Silvernest offers a safer approach than advertising on the open market. The company does background checks, helps facilitate monthly payments and uses a special algorithm to help find suitable matches. A roommate or a companion could well help a senior renter improve the quality of their life.

Other Notable Innovations in Development

In the home-sensor field:

  • Stack Care – light-bulbs containing radar-based sensor technology capable of tracking falls and other changes in a senior’s daily activities
  • Echo Care Technologies – non-wearable system capable of detecting falls and other issues
  • UnaliWear – classic-style watch with the ability to respond to voice commands, track movements and provide other assistance as necessary

To read more about other new innovations download the full article here.

Michael Gilfix discusses Trump policies affecting elderly, disabled Americans in latest article

Ever since President Donald Trump came into power, there has been no shortage of confusion and uncertainty about the new administration’s agenda. In an article published in the July issue of Trusts & Estates magazine, attorney Michael Gilfix of Gilfix & La Poll Associates strives to provide clarity on how various proposals could affect the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

The article, titled “Trump Initiatives Affecting Vulnerable Populations,” examines tax reform policies, possible changes in Medicaid rules as well as the future of government programs. The information is of particular value to seniors and disabled Americans.

Along with being a nationally known authority on estate planning, elder law and special needs planning, Gilfix is also one of the founding members of the Trump Policy Analysis Group. The group was established three weeks after the 2016 presidential election as a way to provide “objectivity as new proposals emerge from the administration and from Congress, especially concerning older Americans and Americans with disabilities.” The group’s mission is to serve as a resource for issues that impact these populations.

Gilfix co-authored the Trusts & Estates article with attorneys Vincent J. Russo and Harry S. Margolis, who are also founding members of the Trump Policy Analysis Group. To read the article, visit:

The financial toll of caregiving on special needs families

American families provide around 1.5 billion hours of unpaid at-home care to about 5.6 million special needs children each year, according to the findings of a nationwide study. This represents a substantial economic cost of an estimated $36 billion in unpaid medical care annually.

Family members assist special needs children at home with everything from feeding and tracking medication to performing physical therapy and changing bandages. These health care tasks can be time-consuming and even highly technical at times.

The study found parents and guardians provide an average of 5.1 hours of medical care to a special needs child each week. For children with conditions like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the number of hours doubles. However, those figures do not include additional time caregivers spend helping children with daily activities like bathing and dressing.

Researchers say caregiving takes a toll on the ability of parents to earn a living. Families forgo nearly $3,200 in earnings each year per child due to medical caregiving responsibilities. While home health aides are available to provide care, hiring them is often not a feasible option for many families as they can cost up to $6,400 annually per child.

Beyond financial challenges, researchers noted that caregiving responsibilities can also cause emotional stress. “Parents want to do everything they can for their children, but it can be a real challenge to juggle their ill child, their other children and sometimes their job,” said Mark Schuster, general pediatrics chief at Boston Children’s Hospital and senior investigator on the study.

Schuster suggested family caregivers need to be given more training and support. The researchers and his colleagues recommended paid family leave programs, improved care coordination, more communication with the child’s medical team and home visits by clinicians as strategies to help at-home care providers of special needs children.

National Institute of Justice funds research to prevent elder abuse

Seniors can be vulnerable to many forms of elder abuse, whether it is financial exploitation or physical abuse. While elder mistreatment is known to occur, it is also a problem that often goes unreported.

The Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is hoping to change that. It recently awarded around $800,000 to the University of Southern California (USC) and the Urban Institute to develop elder abuse prevention programs focusing on financial exploitation and neglect.

The awards are part of NIJ’s efforts to identify ways to prevent and detect elder abuse and determine which solutions are the most effective. The research involves establishing a planning phase for an Elder Abuse Prevention Demonstration Project.

“There is no age limit on victimization,” said NIJ Director Nancy Rodriguez. “These awards are another step toward enabling evidence-based approaches to protect our elderly from abuse and neglect, while also holding accountable those who exploit and victimize our seniors.”

Investing in research is a key part of developing protections for the elderly. The Urban Institute will conduct an 18-month study with at-risk seniors in Maricopa County, Arizona. The findings will then be published in a manual containing information about implementing its elder abuse prevention program in other locations.

The USC will use the $400,000 awarded by the NIJ to create an elder mistreatment intervention program. The program will be based on the insights gleaned from studying domestic violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence. The funds will enable the university to launch phase one of a three-part project in collaboration with stakeholders and health professionals. Adults aged 65 years and older will participate in the first phase of the project.

“Preventing elder abuse has long been our objective,” states Palo Alto, California, elder law attorney Michael Gilfix. Gilfix offers creative approaches to focus on prevention, rather than addressing abuse after it occurs. For more information see the article titled, “Addressing Financial Elder Abuse: Should the bar for protective intervention be lower?” written by Michael Gilfix in September 2014.

New app gives families access to vetted caregivers

Many families turn to caregivers when they are unable to care for their aging or ill loved ones. Few adult children or spouses are equipped to provide the daily attention that an elderly person may require. However, finding qualified and trustworthy caregivers is no easy task, especially in light of horror stories documenting abuse and neglect.

There are several online care marketplaces such as, Carelinx, ClearCare and HomeHero that offer tools for selecting a good caregiver. The latest to join them is San Francisco-based startup Kindly Care. The company aims to enable families to hire and manage private live-in caregivers themselves, rather than going through a specialized home care agency, which can be costly.

Caregivers that sign up with Kindly Care are required to undergo a screening process. They are asked to record a profile video in a specific format. Each video features the same questions such as why they chose to become caregivers and who their most memorable client was.

The Kindly Care app offers a broad range of tools that allow the day-to-day management of caregivers. Family members can schedule shifts and create to-do lists for the caregiver, as well as monitor the patient’s health and caregiver’s activities. The transparency helps prevent negligence while providing care managers the opportunity to remain involved in their loved ones’ lives.

Kindly Care also automates payroll and sets up necessities like taxes, Social Security and insurance. It is available for free online and on iOS and Android.

When it comes to providing loved ones with the best care possible, there are several important steps families can take to plan for long-term care without exhausting their savings. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can provide valuable insight into the options available.

Mark Gilfix Discusses Estate Planning With the Star of the Investigation Discovery Show, “Reasonable Doubt”, Melissa Lewkowicz

Mark Gilfix recently sat down in the offices of criminal defense attorney, and cable TV star, Melissa Lewkowicz, to discuss the 3 key estate planning documents that every American needs. Watch the Facebook video below.

You can watch Melissa Lewkowicz in Reasonable Doubt on Investigation Discovery or see clips at

Why a durable power of attorney is a valuable estate planning tool

A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) allows an individual to give a designated person — known as an “attorney in fact” — authority to sign documents and act on their behalf. The legal document is particularly beneficial for individuals who are worried about mental or physical incapacity in the future. For example, an elderly person may be aware of their gradual memory loss, which may soon render them incapable of making important decisions.

Some people might view the idea of preparing and signing a DPA as a sign of losing their independence. However, it allows individuals to specify how they want things handled while they are still alive but unable to manage their affairs. Without a DPA in place, family and friends will not be able to make any important financial decisions in the event of unforeseen incapacity.

The attorney in fact has a significant amount of control over an incapacitated individual’s financial and legal affairs. They have the power to make decisions about assets, enter into contracts, manage businesses, and handle tax and trust matters. Therefore, it is critical to choose a trusted individual such as a family member or friend and to fully discuss the scope of responsibility.

The DPA can either be effective immediately once signed, or when and if a person becomes incapacitated. The document is legally valid for a person’s entire lifetime unless he or she revises or revokes it at any time while being of sound mind.

An experienced estate planning attorney can provide guidance on selecting the best approach to protecting one’s future interests. For example, in some cases a court-appointed conservatorship may be necessary when the individual lacks the capacity to sign a DPA or does not have anyone to name as an attorney in fact.

“We all want to avoid court involvement,” warns nationally known attorney Mark Gilfix. “Signing a well-drafted Durable Power of Attorney is therefore an essential part of proactive planning.”

How phone and tablet games are making autism diagnosis easier

A new study has found that autism can be diagnosed in a faster and inexpensive way by allowing children to play games on smartphones and tablets. Researchers from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland used fun iPad games to track players’ hand movements. The information gathered by examining gameplay patterns helped them identify children who may have autism.

The research shows how technology offers the possibility of a less intrusive method to diagnose the childhood neurodevelopmental disorder. Lead study author Dr. Jonathan Delafield-Butt, a senior lecturer in child development at the university, called the findings “potentially a major breakthrough.”

He stressed the importance of detecting autism early on so that children and parents can access various support services. Autism affects one in 160 children around the world. The sooner children are diagnosed, the better parents can plan for their future, such as by creating a special needs trust.

The study involved analyzing movement data from 37 autistic children aged between three and six. They played games on tablets and smartphones that had embedded motion sensors and touch-sensitive screens.

“The key difference is in the way children with autism move their hands as they touch, swipe, and gesture with the iPad during the game,” said Delafield-Butt. “This unexpected finding adds new impetus to a growing scientific understanding that movement is fundamentally disrupted in autism, and may underpin the disorder.”

Further research is needed to confirm the findings in order to integrate technology into the diagnostic process. However, using games to diagnose autism would minimize the need for children to undergo stressful, expensive and time-consuming tests by clinicians. It also allows for earlier, and possibly more effective, advance planning to maximize eligibility for important government benefits.

California couple’s eviction highlights dangers of elderly financial abuse

The elderly can be vulnerable to various forms of elder abuse, one of which is financial exploitation. Financial exploitation involves unauthorized use of an elderly person’s finances or property, either by a family member, caregiver or an unknown scammer.

The media recently reported the case of an elderly California couple who faced eviction from their home of 56 years after falling victim to a scam devised by their grandson. Chad Moore defrauded his grandparents Hank and Helen Kawecki out of their deed, defaulted on nearly $500,000 in loans and lost their Thousand Oaks house to foreclosure.

Moore convinced the couple he would provide them with lifelong financial support if they transferred the house over to him. After taking out a loan, he initially kept his promise to give his grandparents monthly payments. However, he stopped the payments after a few months and allegedly spent all the money in Las Vegas.

Instead, Moore put the house up for sale. He also lured his grandparents out of their home while realtors hosted open house events for potential clients. The couple filed a lawsuit against Moore with their neighbor’s help. Police are investigating the case.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse has identified a number of behaviors commonly associated with financial fraud. These include: taking money or property, forging the elderly person’s signature, and failing to follow through on promises for lifelong care in exchange for money or property. An older person may also be coerced or deceived into signing a will, power of attorney or deed.

Creating an estate plan can help protect the elderly from financial exploitation. A living trust, Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Directive are all excellent safeguards. Each document names a trusted individual who can manage assets and health care according to specified wishes in the event of incapacity.

Beneficiary for VA policy. Reviewing beneficiary designation for husband’s (Mois) VA policy. #1 Judith Macias? #2, 3, 4?

Good Evening Judy,

You are correct, the primary beneficiary should be yourself. The contingent beneficiaries should be 30% to Rachel Mary Macias and 70% to the Daniel Abram Macias Irrevocable Special Needs Trust (or whichever percentages you deem appropriate).


Do let us know if you have any additional questions. Thank you.


Best regards,

Karen Chiu

Attorney at Law