May is National Elder Law Month. This designation was established by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys as a way to acknowledge the profession which supports the senior community (defined as people over 65 years) with all of their planning needs. It is celebrated by Elder Law attorneys throughout the country who offer special living days, public seminars, Elder Law clinics and other activities to educate the public.
Many people question, “What is Elder Law?” Essentially, Elder Law is a classification of law that relates less to the type of casework performed and more to the type of person who is served. Elder Law attorneys represent, counsel and assist seniors, people with disabilities and their families with a variety of legal issues.
We believe that this area of practice is poised for exponential growth. When observing the facts of the growth of the over 65 population, the need for this type of law is staggering. A few salient statistics include:
- Older population (65+) is numbered at 41.4 million in 2011, an increase of 6.3 million or 18% since 2000. -Administration on Aging, “A Profile on Older Americans: 2012
- The population 65 and over has increased from 35 million in 2000 to 41.4 million in 2011 (18% increase) and is projected to increase to 79.7 million in 2040. -Administration on Aging, “A Profile on Older Americans: 2012
- Within 20 years, persons age 65 and older will comprise 20% of the U.S. population. – Prudential Research Report (2010) Long Term Care Study
- A total of $207 billion was spent on long-term care in the U.S. in 2005. – Long-Term Care Financing Project. Georgetown University (2007). “Fact Sheet: National Spending for Long-Term Care.”
- 70% of people age 65 today will need some long term care in their lifetimes. – Prudential Research Report (2010) Long Term Care Study
- A relatively small number (1.5 million) and percentage (3.6%) of the 65+ population in 2011 lived in institutional settings such as nursing homes (1.3 million). However the percentage increases dramatically with age, ranging (in 2011) from 1% for persons 65-74 years to 3% for persons 75-84 years and 11% for persons 85+. -Administration on Aging, “A Profile on Older Americans: 2012
It is vital for families and seniors to be educated on the need to plan for this possibility. Elder Law attorneys help their clients through counseling the elderly, and their families, on how to prepare adequately for these types of care.