As elder law attorneys, we keep a finger on the pulse of matters that impact senior citizens. One of the most profound threats to our nation’s elders is the horrible scourge of Alzheimer’s disease.
Everyone has heard about Alzheimer’s, but many people do not fully understand its widespread and deadly nature. The Alzheimer’s Association does a great deal of fantastic work providing resources, and they also conduct a good bit of research. And of course, they disseminate the results of studies that have been done by other entities.
We urge you to check out their site to learn more about the disease.
One statistic on the site that gets your attention right away is the fact that Alzheimer’s strikes about one third of people that are 85 years of age and older. The number is approximately 10 percent for all senior citizens.
Alzheimer’s causes dementia, and it is also deadly. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, taking over 100,000 people per year.
The population getting is older because the baby boomer generation is attaining senior citizen status. Experts at the National Center for Health Statistics have stated that about 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050.
As you can see, Alzheimer’s disease is a very real threat that can impact anyone. This is something to take very seriously when you are planning ahead for the future.
If you do nothing to express your own choices in writing, the state could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf if it becomes necessary. This can cause disagreements among your loved ones with regard to the person that should act as the guardian. Plus, whoever is chosen may not be the person that you would have selected when you were capable of doing so.
You can prevent a guardianship by taking the right legal steps in advance. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that you can use to name someone to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
The “durable” designation is key, because this type of power of attorney would remain in effect even if you suffer from cognitive impairment.
A durable power of attorney for health care decision-making should also be part of the plan. You can name one person to act as the agent in both capacities, but this is not required. A living will is another incapacity planning document that you can use to state your preference regarding the utilization of life support.
Medical professionals are not allowed to share information about a patient’s condition with anyone other than the patient because of provisions contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You should include a HIPAA release to give the agent the ability to communicate freely with your doctors.
Nursing Home Care
More than half of people in nursing homes have Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive impairment that stems from some other condition. The United States Department of Health and Human Services tells us that 35 percent of all senior citizens will ultimately reside in nursing homes.
These facilities are very expensive, and Medicare does not pay for the custodial care that nursing homes provide. Medicaid will pick up the tab, but it is a need-based program, so you have to make all the right financial moves at the right time to gain eligibility.
Timing is a factor because of the five-year look back period. If you give away assets within five years of the time of your application submission, you would be deemed ineligible.
Our Firm Can Help!
We can help you develop a holistic plan for aging that is ideal for you and your family. If you are ready to get started, send us a message to request a consultation appointment or call us at 513-721-1513.