Half a million Americans under the age of 65 have some type of early-onset dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. At aged 65 or older, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years. Today, more than 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. The number will only rise as the population ages. If you are one of the millions diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is important to take swift action and put plans in place for your future. Both patients and family members should seek legal help, especially as statistics show between one and four family members act as caregivers for each Alzheimer’s patient.
The Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. can provide advice on getting your affairs in order and taking proactive steps to cope with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Give us a call today at (585) 546-1734 to find out about the personalized help we provide and to get answers to questions that matter when coping with Alzheimer’s, such as:
- What should a patient do after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis?
- What can family members of an Alzheimer’s patient do after diagnosis?
- How can a Finger Lakes elder law attorney provide help in coping with Alzheimer’s?
What Should a Patient Do After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?
After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you need to get your affairs in order while you are still of sound mind. Many patients are diagnosed early and still have the legal authority to create a plan for medical care, asset management, and their legacy. The sooner you act, the more control you can have over your future, even with your fate uncertain because of your diagnosis. Some of the different steps which you may wish to take include:
- Creating a last will and testament.
- Creating a power of attorney and selecting a person who will act as your agent to make your decisions when your disease progresses and you no longer can act on your own. Your agent can also manage assets for you.
- Creating a plan to transfer any ownership interests you may have in businesses.
- Naming a healthcare proxy who will make your medical care choices for you once you lose the ability to act on your own behalf.
- Creating trusts for asset protection, to provide for your heirs, and to give to charity.
- Creating a plan to ensure nursing home care costs can be covered when care is required.
- Creating advanced directives for healthcare to provide instructions on what kinds of care you wish to receive and what kinds of care you wish to decline.
You will not be able to take many of these steps or use many important legal tools once your disease progresses to the point where you are considered incapacitated. As a result, you should contact an attorney right away to set your planning process in motion. It will give both you and your family peace of mind to know you’ve set out the road map to control as much of your future as possible when faced with a disease that has an uncertain progression.
What Can Family Members of An Alzheimer’s Patient Do After a Diagnosis?
Family members often become caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, which can be physically and mentally challenging. If someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s you should look into options for caregiver services and support. The Veteran’s Administration, for example, offers options for a respite programs for caregivers. Family members should also talk with their loved one who has Alzheimer’s about his or her wishes for the future so family will know what to expect.
Finally, if you become responsible for serving as a guardian or agent under power of attorney, you need to know what is expected of you and you need to ensure you are making informed choices in fulfilling your role. For example, contacting an attorney for help reviewing nursing home admissions paperwork is essential so you can ensure you do not inadvertently sign a document waiving any rights without understanding the implications. You owe it to yourself and your loved one with the diagnosis to have a knowledgeable legal advocate looking out for you.
How Can a Finger Lakes Elder Law Attorney Help in Coping with Alzheimer’s?
The Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. provides comprehensive assistance to Alzheimer’s patients and their families in the Finger Lakes, Rochester, Naples, Pittsford, and surrounding areas. We will assist patients and family members in using all available legal tools to plan for the future. The goals are to protect the patient’s autonomy and assets, to get benefits for patients and family members, and to take control over the future. Give us a call today at (585) 546-1734 to learn more.