As estate planning and elder law attorneys, we have a finger on the pulse of matters that are going to be of interest to senior citizens. One of the most pressing factors that we see day after day is the impact of Alzheimer’s disease. Everyone should have a thorough understanding of its reach along with the legal and financial implications.
Aging of the Population
During the period between 1943 and 1964, unprecedented numbers of infants were born. This phenomenon has been dubbed the “baby boom,” and if you take a moment to do the math, you can see that these folks are becoming senior citizens. As a result, the elder population is growing rapidly.
Over the years, medical science has advanced exponentially, and this has extended life expectancies for seniors. Statistically speaking, if you live old enough to collect your full Social Security benefit, your life expectancy is between 85 and 87 years depending on your gender.
It can definitely be difficult to imagine yourself living life as an octogenarian. However, when you digest these facts, you should have this expectation if you intend to live long enough to receive Social Security.
Alzheimer’s Induced Dementia
The Alzheimer’s Association is an extraordinary resource for families that have been touched by this horrible disease. They have established local chapters all around the country, and they operate a 24/7 helpline, so they provide hands-on assistance. Plus, if you want to learn about the disease, there is a treasure trove of information on their website.
Everyone is well aware of the existence of Alzheimer’s, but its widespread nature is surprising to many that look into the subject for the first time. One out of every 10 people that are at least 65 have Alzheimer’s, and the percentage swells to 40 percent among folks that are 85 years of age and older.
Clearly, this is a looming threat that everyone should take quite seriously. In addition to the personal impact on a human level, there are other considerations that enter the picture.
When you are devising an estate plan, you should include an incapacity planning component to address this eventuality.
If you ever become unable to handle your own affairs, the state could appoint a guardian to act on your behalf. Most people would prefer to make these decisions on their own when they are still fully capable of reasoning effectively.
You can do this through the utilization of Durable Powers of Attorney. With these documents, you name agents to make financial decisions on your behalf if it ever becomes necessary. However, because powers of attorney often are not accepted by financial institutions, a better option is to use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan. Your successor trustee will be able to mange your assets, and these arrangements tend to be more widely accepted by financial institutions.
A Health Care Proxy allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to do so for yourself, and a Living Will would be added to state your preferences regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures if you were ever in a terminal condition and unable to communicate. You would want to add a HIPAA release to give your health care agent (and anyone else that you choose) the power to review your medical records.
Nursing Home Care
As you might imagine, many people with Alzheimer’s disease ultimately require a level of care that can only be provided by a nursing home. These facilities are extremely expensive, and Medicare will not help with the bills at all.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to be in a position to get the care that you need without losing everything in the process if you discuss your options with an attorney from our firm.
Take Action Right Now!
We would be more than willing to help if you are ready to make the ideal elder law connection. You can schedule a remote consultation appointment right now if you call us at (585) 546-1734.
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