Did you know Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., with 5.4 million Americans suffering from the disease. If you have a family history of this dread disease (or a loved on in the early stages of a diagnosis), then read on. Now is the time time to go on the offensive in a legal and financial sense.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer' disease can be devastating for everyone involved, including the patient and all of his or her family members. Should you be facing this diagnosis, personally or within your family, there are probably a million thoughts racing through your mind, to include keeping your loved one safe and caring for them as the disease progresses. However, one thing you might not have considered is the need for coordinated legal and financial planning.
As a recent article by Reuter’s explains, if you have a family history of dementia, are showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or are concerned about later-life planning, it's time to get to work. ASAP.
Bottom line: You'll want to assemble a team that specializes in long-term planning and elder care issues. A good place to start is the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). An elder law attorney can help navigate the elective transfer of decision-making authority through a power of attorney or trust. In addition, an elder law attorney can help you qualify for needs-based programs like Medicaid and Veterans Pension Benefits, if necessary.
Advance Health Directives (i.e., Health Care Treatment Directives, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and Anatomical Gift (or non-gift) Declarations should be implemented so your wishes are carried out by your loved ones, who know you better than any physician or probate judge ever will.
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer's, now is the time for you to get your own legal and financial affairs in order. Not only should you take each of the steps outlined above, but you should acquire your own long-term care insurance policy.
Remember: Your "health" buys the insurance, your dollars just pay the premiums. That is why Gretchen and I have our own private long-term care insurance policies. To learn more, visit the Long-Term Care Planning practice area on our website.
You can learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, at the Alzheimer’s Association online.
Reference: Reuters (July 20, 2011) "Alzheimer’s: early planning critical to financial health"