Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

Burial for the Indigent

Old-graveyard-free-public-domainThe high costs of funeral services creates a problem, because many people pass away without having the means for their own burials. Their remains still have to go somewhere.

Every year, thousands of people with very little money pass away.  Sometimes, it is not even known who these deceased people were in life.

While this might seem like a minor issue and something that has always been the case, it creates an increasing burden on local governments.  They must determine what to do with the bodies of deceased people, who either cannot be identified or whose families do not have the money to afford burial or cremation.

It is not a minor expense,  since the costs of disposing of a deceased body continue to rise.

One county in Florida had such a significant problem that they purchased a cemetery, as the Tallahassee Democrat reports in "A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County's 'pauper's cemetery'."

The cemetery previously belonged to a hospital, but the county purchased it to dispose of the remains of the indigent as cheaply as possible. Graves are marked with the most basic of markers and no actual funeral services are allowed at the cemetery.

The deceased are buried as quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

This is an issue that could get worse before it gets better.

Elderly people are living longer and in greater numbers. That makes it likely that many more elderly will pass away in the future, after they have run out of their own money.

The burden to bury them will be on the government. Elder law advocates may need to address this problem in the near future.

Reference: Tallahassee Democrat (June 24, 2017) "A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County's 'pauper's cemetery'."


New Dementia Treatment

MP900439352[1]A new virtual reality treatment is helping some elderly people with dementia recall their memories.

It has often been said that the cruelest thing about Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia is the forgetting. People who suffer from dementia forget the important people, places and things in their life.

They do not just forget that the person talking to them is their grown-up child. They also forget the time they took that child to their first baseball game, for example.

Helping patients get back those memories, has proven to be a challenge.

Patients can be told about the memories, but that does not necessarily mean they will remember them.

Technology now might be able to help, as the Daily Mail reports in "Touching moment a virtual reality headset helps elderly people with dementia recall previous memories."

A virtual reality therapy program has been created that lets patients virtually be at a scene.

A therapist asks a set of leading questions to help jog the patient's memory. The article mentions that an elderly woman was shown a virtual reality beach scene and was then able to recall the time she visited a beach in Scotland as a child. It was a memory which had previously been lost to her.

There are twelve scenes in total, including a view of the Earth from the International Space Station.

For now, this virtual reality program is costly and not available to everyone. However, if it continues to show promise in helping dementia sufferers, then it is likely to soon be more widely available.

Reference: Daily Mail (May 16, 2017) "Touching moment a virtual reality headset helps elderly people with dementia recall previous memories."