By Jack Halpern, CEO, My Elder AdvocateSince My Elder Advocate is compensated only by the families we represent, we are not obligated or interested in protecting the needs or interests of the hospital, insurance companies, private healthcare service providers, or government agencies. My Elder Advocate, however, is the exception in a world of allegedly free services that continually put elders at risk. Let’s imagine a common scenario. A senior falls and breaks a hip or suffers from a stroke. Suddenly, there’s a scramble to find a nursing home or other long-term care facility. In order to meet a growing demand and lured by the opportunity for fast money, so-called “elder care referral services” have sprung up around the country. Many of these referral services offer their help “for free”, but that’s not accurate. Adult care homes and nursing facilities pay the referral service a big commission for place, sometimes up to $4,000. Relying on commission-only sales personnel means that aged individuals in need of care are frequently just referred to the services that pay the best commission fees. There are several facts you should know about these allegedly “free” services: Good nursing homes do not have to pay a fee to a patient broker or “advisor.” They are usually full and have an ample supply of referrals. The opposite is also true. If a “free” service suggests a nursing home to you, you shouldn’t just assume that it is a quality facility. You must always practice due diligence and go see the facility...

By Jack Halpern, CEO, My Elder Advocate Betty Washington*, an elderly African American woman, recently broke her hip. Betty has lived, for all of her 85 years, in Brooklyn, but she is poor and living on a fixed income. While attending her great-granddaughter’s birthday party, she stood up from her chair, felt dizzy, and fell. She was rushed to the hospital. *Names have been changed Betty Washington*, an elderly African American woman, recently broke her hip. Betty has lived, for all of her 85 years, in Brooklyn, but she is poor and living on a fixed income. While attending her great-granddaughter’s birthday party, she stood up from her chair, felt dizzy, and fell. She was rushed to the hospital. After hip surgery and five days in the hospital, she was transferred to a sub-standard local nursing home for rehabilitation. At this non-profit nursing facility, 95 percent of the residents are subsidized by Medicaid and the majority are black. The facility is severely understaffed, and has been cited many times by regulatory agencies for a lack of care quality. Since Betty could not return home, her family decided that she should stay at the nursing home as a long term care resident. She spent 15 months there until she passed away, but during her stay she suffered from: Stage 4 Decubitus Ulcers A dozen Urinary Tract Infections (which required hospitalization) 6 falls, including breaking her other hip. Weight loss of 20 pounds in a short period of time A MRSA infection that was unchecked for two...