As elder law attorneys, we focus on the legal needs of the senior community. We help clients understand some of the eventualities that they may face during the latter stages of their lives. It is important to address some inconvenient truths that can be difficult to accept.
When you think about your senior years, you probably envision the period that will immediately follow your working career. At that point, you can travel, engage in leisure activities, and enjoy your spare time to the utmost.
You should certainly plan ahead for retirement from a financial perspective so that your golden years can be very special. At the same time, you should consider the realities of life as an octogenarian
If you are thinking that you probably won’t live that long, you should understand the facts. Once you become old enough to collect Social Security, your life expectancy is 85 years if you are a man, and for a woman, it is 87 years.
Most people certainly expect to reach the age of 66 or 67, so this a fact of life that should provide you with food for thought.
The Alzheimer’s Association is dedicated to providing resources and information to people that are impacted by the disease, and those that want to learn about it. According to research that they cite, 10 percent of all seniors have contracted Alzheimer’s.
Approximately one third of Americans that are 85 years of age and older have been stricken with Alzheimer’s. This disease obviously takes a devastating emotional toll on the patient and the patient’s family, and there are also legal and financial ramifications.
Personal and Medical Decision Making
Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, but it is not the only one. Clearly, people with cognitive impairment are going to become unable to handle their own affairs. If you do nothing to prepare for this possibility, the state could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.
It is best to take the matter into your own hands through the execution of the proper legal documents. Through the creation of a durable power of attorney for property, you can empower an agent to manage your assets if and when it becomes necessary.
A health care proxy or durable power of attorney for health care can be added to name a medical decision maker. The same person can assume both roles, but this is not required. It should be noted that you have the ability to empower a disability trustee if you have a living trust.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability and Act (HIPAA) prevents doctors from sharing health care information with anyone other than the patient. As a response, your incapacity plan should include a HIPAA release to give the agent the ability to speak freely with your doctors.
Potential Nursing Home Costs
A very significant percentage of people with dementia ultimately require a level of care that only a nursing home can provide. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association states that more than half of people in nursing homes have dementia or some degree of cognitive impairment.
Medicare does not pay for nursing home care, and it is very expensive. Medicaid will pick up the tab, but it is a need-based program. You have to take measured financial steps to gain eligibility without losing anything in the process.
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