The National Institute on Aging defines Alzheimer’s disease as, “ an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.”. Experts say as many as 5.1 million Americans have some degree of this disease.
It’s the most common cause of dementia among older people; dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning. There are varying degrees of dementia, like Alzheimer’s, but the effects are the same for both those with the disease and the families who must find a way to deal with this frightening new reality for their loved one.
Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Early on, memory problems are usually the first tell-tale sign that something’s not right. This memory loss is called “amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI)” and those with this condition have more memory problems than normal for people their age, though it might not be to the degree of full Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, no one knows what causes this devastating condition.
For those who care for loved ones diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be absolutely devastating. Not only are there medical concerns, but there are financial and legal considerations as well. Estate planning, Medicaid, wills and living trusts – all of this “legal jargon” can take a toll on someone who’s already learning to cope with the reality of the disease.
Estate Planning and Medicaid
Finding a Medicaid lawyer can help ease that burden for family members. For those who don’t already have an estate plan or will, it’s a reminder of just how important these documents are. The fact is, none of us know what lies ahead for ourselves or family members. Becoming well-informed can bring a bit of peace and then putting a game plan into motion empowers you and your loved one.
And no, it’s not fair. None of us should have to witness the heartbreaking realities that these diseases bring, but we can’t ignore it, either. Understanding both the disease and the financial repercussions requires a team effort. From medical professionals to your estate planning attorney, you have to trust those who help pave the way through the darkness.
Empower by Education
While we encourage our clients to educate themselves on these issues, we also stand ready to provide sound legal advice and resources that can help a family make the best decisions regarding their loved ones. Don’t underestimate the power that comes from education. By the same token, don’t assume the legalities will “work themselves out”. It simply doesn’t happen that way.
Elder care lawyers can point their clients in the right direction as they begin the long road of reaching the long term effects of both dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. From there, making those harder decisions on everything from Medicaid planning to advance healthcare directives to powers of attorney.
Speaking of the research, NIA also says Alzheimer’s disease could very realistically triple by 2050; clearly, this isn’t a disease that’s going away. It’s going to affect not only your parents, but generations to follow. In fact, NIA calls it an “impending epidemic”.
The costs of long term care is startling. Last year, the average daily rate (nationally) for a private room in a nursing facility was right at $250. A quick math check reveals the annual cost – just the nursing facility – to be more than $90,000 a year. This is yet another reason why no one should assume their current wills and estate planning documents are enough. We encourage clients to do a check-up at least once a year so that their plans will actually serve their purpose should the time come.
Finally, it should be noted that in New York, there are efforts to overhaul the Medicaid system in its entirety. This really drives home the reality of how important it is for us to stay on top of our estate planning efforts.
Not sure what’s next? Give us a call and together, we can build that financial foundation that protects you and your family. Our estate planning team can provide options you might not have even considered.