Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

Spotlight on: Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia

By Jessica A. Hayes

To best assist our clients, we strive to familiarize ourselves with the many helpful resources available to seniors in the area. An invaluable resource of which many of our Virginia clients are unaware is Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia (SSSEVA). Hook Law Center’s attorneys and long-term care paralegals recently had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from SSSEVA to learn more about their services. Particularly for our clients who have no family nearby or who wish to remain living in their home but require a little assistance, SSSEVA may improve their quality of life significantly.

SSSEVA’s programs and services include:

  • Transportation – The “I-Ride Transit” program provides accessible transportation options for seniors age 60 and up and individuals with disabilities in metropolitan Hampton Roads and Western Tidewater. They offer fixed routes, medical transportation, paratransit, and on-demand response transit. Fares are extremely affordable (generally $4 or less).
  • Meals SSSEVA is a member of Meals on Wheels of America. Its meal delivery service provides 10 microwavable meals every two weeks to individuals age 60 and up who are homebound and unable to prepare their own meals. The meals are free, but donations are welcome.
  • Companionship – The Senior Companion Program will match a senior living at home with a senior volunteer who visits and assists with a variety of tasks such as grocery shopping or light meal preparation. The service is free to those who need the assistance.
  • Ombudsman Services – The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program assists individuals who have concerns about assisted living facilities, nursing homes, in-home care, and adult day care, mediating between seniors and their medical providers and investigating and resolving complaints. This service is free of charge.
  • Medicare benefits counseling – SSSEVA has counselors on staff who can assist seniors in applying for Medicare, filing Medicare claims and resolving billing issues, enrolling in Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Program), and choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan, among others. This service is free of charge.

A call to SSSEVA’s resource specialists (757-461-9481) can help you identify which of these and other SSSEVA programs and services may be beneficial for you or your loved one. For more information, visit https://www.ssseva.org/.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Monkey Talk

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about why monkeys cannot talk? They have so many of the preliminary skills, but for some reason, it just doesn’t result in speech?

Kit Kat:  Well, as is usual, scientists have different opinions on the subject. The groundbreaking original study on the subject was done around 1969 by Philip Lieberman of Brown University and published in the journal Science. The study examined rhesus macaque monkeys. It compared live rhesus macaque monkeys who were sedated with that of a plaster mold of the throat made from a rhesus macaque monkey that had died. The monkeys could produce sounds, but they could not produce certain vowels, like the long E sound, which appears in many languages. The study postulated that the shape of their windpipes was not adequate to produce speech. Nor did they possess a sufficiently long vocal tract.

Until 2016, the Lieberman study appeared to be the accepted thought on the matter. Then, other scientists from the University of Vienna (Austria) and Vrije University in Brussels (Belgium) conducted their own study using a series of x-rays of rhesus macaque monkeys’ vocal tracts. They concluded that monkeys had a much broader speech capability than previously thought. They could indeed make many short vowel sounds (a, e, i, u), as in the words bat, bet bit, and but. However, Anna Barney of the University of Southampton (England) commented, that “the new research was convincing, but raised questions, such as a lack of macaque consonants. What they’ve shown is that monkeys are vowel-ready, not speech-ready.”

So the debate continues. Scientists undoubtedly will seek more clues as to why intelligent primates such as rhesus macaque monkeys, chimpanzees, and bonobos cannot go beyond their cooing and babbling and execute real speech, as humans define it. They certainly possess nonverbal communication; however, real speech continues to elude them. (Ben Guarino, “No More Than Monkey Talk,” reprinted from The Washington Post and appearing in The Virginian-Pilot, p. 4, July 8, 2017)

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Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

IRS Grants Extension for Portability Purposes

By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro, Esq.

Many people are aware that in 2013, Congress established a permanent basic Federal estate tax exclusion amount of $5,000,000, as adjusted for inflation. For purposes of the Federal estate tax, a portability election allows a surviving spouse to carryover the unused estate tax exclusion amount of the deceased spouse. This carryover essentially increases the exemption for the surviving spouse by the amount of the unused exclusion of the decedent. However, to make a valid election, the personal representative of the estate (often known as the Executor or Administrator) is required to file a timely IRS Form 706 within nine months after the decadent’s date of death, or in the alternative, filed a six-month extension via IRS Form 4768.

To demonstrate the importance of this election, let’s imagine that Al died with a $7 million estate, of which $4 million went to his wife, Barbara, and $3 million went to his daughter. Al’s estate is entitled to a $4 million marital deduction for the amount left to the surviving spouse, so Al only used $3 million of his $5 million exemption as a result of the gift to his daughter. The Executor of Al’s estate timely filed an Estate Tax Return and made a portability election, which resulted in an additional $2 million exemption carrying over to Barbara to use at her death. This election was important, because Barbara had approximately $3 million in her own name at the time of Al’s death. As a result, if Barbara died shortly after receiving the $4 million from Al’s estate, at the time of her death, the full $7 million owned by Barbara would pass to the beneficiaries free from Federal estate tax. Had the Executor not timely filed the portability election, $2 million of Barbara’s assets would be subject to Federal estate tax.

The failure to elect portability to preserve the unused portion of a decedent’s exemption was a problem a number of attorneys throughout the country faced, and the only way to tackle it over the past few years was to obtain a costly Private Letter Ruling from the IRS. To address this issue, in June 2017 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2017-34 to grant an extension for those who failed to elect portability in a timely manner. Accordingly, this revenue procedure provided a simplified method to obtain an extension of time to elect portability by permitting the personal representative of an estate for which there was no filing requirement to file a return before the later of January 2, 2018, or the second anniversary of the decedent’s date of death.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Woodpeckers in Dismal Swamp

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about the re-emergence of woodpeckers in the Great Dismal Swamp?

Kit Kat:  Well, this seems to be a victory for conservation efforts. There haven’t been woodpeckers in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the NC and Virginia state lines, since 1974! I am referring to the red-cockaded woodpecker, that is, which is known for having a very attractive male with a dash of red feathers on its head. They are known to live in live trees, and they select mates for life. Previously, the birds had a range of habitat running as far north as New Jersey; however, that was eventually reduced due to logging and development. By 1970, the species was in decline, and in that year it was added to the endangered species list. Now, it appears that the northernmost limit is in the Sussex and Suffolk counties of Virginia. Colonies in both counties are headed up by the Nature Conservancy’s Piney Grove Preserve (Sussex) and the Center for Conservation Biology (Suffolk).

The woodpeckers which have now bred in the Great Dismal Swamp came from woodpeckers in North and South Carolina. From a group of 18 released into the area over the last two years, 5 remained (2 males and 3 females). They managed to produce several eggs; two survived. Those two have been banded, with two bands being placed on each’s right leg and three on their left leg. Just last month (June), the babies had feathers. Using a telescopic camera, it was determined that both are female. This fall, Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology in Suffolk, says four more pairs will be introduced there. Watts says they are aiming to have five breeding groups by 2020. Keep your fingers crossed that things will develop as planned. As director Watts says, ‘Nature and animals will do their thing. There’s only so much we can manage.’ (Victoria Bourne, “Endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers make a rare re-entrance at Dismal Swamp,” The Virginian-Pilot, July 5, 2017, pg.4)

Upcoming Seminars

Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Monday, July 17th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

SENTARA PACE – Adult Day Care

By Hook Law Center

The primary objective of Sentara’s PACE program is to provide the care necessary to allow the individual to remain at home–care during the day to free the primary caregiver’s time to work/live…

This program is truly ‘Adult Day Care’- not just for the dementia population. The range of participants who are served vary in terms of functional and mental capability. Activities are structured to meet the needs of each individual. Different areas are available to group participants, on occasion, with those of similar capabilities. The program also provides computer access in quiet area for those who possess computer skills.

Before- and after-care is available if it is warranted. The Inter-disciplinary Team (IDT) determines the care needed for their participants. If personal care is warranted, and no one is able to provide the care necessary to get the participant up and dressed and ready to ride the bus, and/or at the end of the day to get home, fed, undressed, bathed etc., PACE will provide it. The IDT meets daily and assesses the needs of their participants.

‘Companion/supervision’ care in the participant’s home is not provided. Home care is based on a medical need and as defined by Assistance with Daily Living (ADL’s) skills. The facility is open for early drop-off by a family member, if the PACE transportation comes later than the caregiver requires for work etc. Weekend service is very limited, but it will be provided if it is prescribed. If a participant is sick and can’t attend and, if the home caregiver calls and informs the director, someone from PACE will be sent to the house to check on the individual.

Other services available are:

  • Manicures, pedicures and hair salon!!!
  • Activities, quiet rooms, a place to nap.
  • PT/OT on-site if prescribed by the IDT- again, the IDT assesses regularly.
  • Clinic onsite can even provide IV therapy.

PACE also provides home safety upgrades, where appropriate, based on assessment by the IDT. This includes adding a ramp to the house for access, widening a doorway, adding safety bars in bathrooms; whatever they can do to keep the participant safe at home for as long as possible. PACE provides Durable Medical Equipment to meet the needs of the participant– including Hoyer lifts etc., for their home.

Finally, when a participant needs to transition to an actual nursing home, PACE assists with this transition. It is a last resort. PACE does whatever it can to keep the individual safe at home for as long as possible.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Animals Predict Earthquakes

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, can animals really predict earthquakes?

Kit Kat:  Well, it looks like the data on this subject is in a very preliminary stage, but on a small scale it does look as if there might be some merit to the claim. Mr. Martin Wikelski, director of the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany has been investigating farm animals in the Marches region of central Italy for about a year. This is the part of the world where earthquakes have caused such destruction. Last August (2016), was the start of a series of earthquakes and aftershocks in the region resulting in $26 billion of damage and more than 300 deaths. However, the rural area provides almost an ideal place for study. Over the time period of October 2016-April 2017, there were 11 days with earthquakes having a magnitude of 4 or greater.

Mr. Wikelski’s findings are set to be officially released in a scientific journal in the near future, so he could not reveal too many specifics ahead of that. However, he has hinted the he has found data to support the assertion that animals do exhibit certain behaviors shortly before a quake. In previous studies he has conducted, he has found similar data. For example, from 2012-2014, he monitored goats and sheep on one of the sides of Mt.Etna in Sicily. ‘The animals predicted the major volcanic eruptions during these two years between four to six hours before. At night, the animals woke up and nervously walked around, and in daytime, they moved to a safe area’ where thick vegetation indicated no volcanic eruptions had occurred. This data from Mt. Etna seems very authoritative, because during that period of investigation, eight major eruptions took place. Based on that research, he applied for a patent in 2013 protecting his technique. It is called ‘Disaster Alert Mediation Using Nature,’ though the patent is still pending.

Mr. Wikelski’s monitoring devices involve a tag with a small solar panel. The devices can measure movement down to the second. They are relatively small, and do not impede the animals’ movements. They also can measure an animal’s magnetic direction, speed, altitude, temperature, humidity, and location. He tags different species to get a broader view of the entire spectrum of animal behavior. Stay tuned for further information. This area of scientific study is still in its infancy, but it will be potentially valuable to areas to prone to destructive earthquakes. (Elisabetta Povoledo, “Can Animals Predict Earthquakes? Italian Farm Acts as a Lab to Find Out,” The New York Times, Europe section, June 17, 2017)

Upcoming Seminars

Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Friday, July 7th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.
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