A lot of us are well versed in the fact that the senior population and the need for senior care care are growing at a very fast rate. In many parts of the country, this is a potential crisis. Other parts already seem to have a firm grasp on the issue and have an infrastructure in place to ensure that every senior that needs help will receive it. It’s a learning process, but it’s one that is becoming more and more manageable on a daily basis.
One area of this field that is still an unknown is the legal side of things. As you might expect, elder law is also a quickly growing field. Unlike a lot of senior care positions though, an advanced degree is needed in order to practice law. This means that the legal field is already naturally going to be a lot smaller than the senior care field. This specialty branch of the law is going to be even smaller. It puts those that need help with legal matters as they age at a disadvantage simply because the number of people qualified to help is going to be smaller.
Like other aspects of elder care, staying ahead of this problem is the best way to ensure that people are not negatively impacted by it. Luckily, there is still a lot that can be accomplished before the shortage of elder care attorneys becomes a nationwide issue. Let’s take a closer look at the issue and what is currently being done to alleviate it.
What is elder law?
Elder law is the practice of law that relates almost exclusively to matters that senior citizens deal with. This can be will preparation, estate and trust planning, as well as advance directives like a living will or power of attorney. This branch of law also deals with issues like abuse, exploitation, and other criminal acts. Unlike other aspects of law, elder law isn’t focused on a specific type of law or procedure, but just the age of the people that they serve.
And as the Baby Boomer generation ages, the number of people over the age of 65 is getting bigger. By the year 2030, all Baby Boomers will be aged 65 or older, making this a huge percentage of the overall population of the U.S.
What’s being done?
Communities around the U.S. are beginning to realize that this is an area of need. Some counties are creating free consultation services to assist seniors that cannot afford to protect themselves legally. This is apparent in legal assistance and legal aid groups across California and beyond.
Unlike the medical field, where insurance can cover a lot of the costs of care, elder law doesn’t have the same financial appeal to many attorneys. However, as attorneys themselves get older and become financially secure, they are seeing that this area of the law has a huge need. It might be something that they devote more and more of their time to because of their drive to serve others. Obviously not all attorneys are going to do this, but some are.
It’s a growing field, but it’s an important one. If you’re unsure of where to turn for help in your area, get in touch with your county. They can steer you toward the resources that exist to help you and your family stay safe.