Understanding the ultimate outcome of most who are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s easy to understand the fear that comes with those realizations when a parent or other loved one has been diagnosed. The questions instantly skyrocket, the answers aren’t always easily found and the sudden realization that life has changed for a family forever is almost overwhelming. But – there’s reason for hope and there’s help available.
A Closer Look at Alzheimer’s
The National Institute on Aging defines Alzheimer’s disease as a progressive and irreversible brain disease that “slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks”. It’s believed there are more than 5 million Americans with some degree of this disease. It’s also the most common cause of dementia, which is the loss of cognitive functioning and reasoning. Like Alzheimer’s, dementia has varying degrees.
Experts say as many as 5.1 million Americans have some degree of this disease.
Usually, the first sign loved ones notice is a loss of memory. It might be dismissed as typical – after all, we can all relate to not remembering where we left our keys (or our cars for some of us), but this begins to become more common as time passes. This memory loss is called “amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI)” and those with this condition have more memory problems.
Not only are there medical concerns, but there are financial and legal considerations as well. Estate planning, Medicaid, wills and living trusts can take a toll on someone who’s already learning to cope with the reality of the disease.
The Financial Burdens
The costs associated with long term care for Alzheimer’s patients is skyrocketing. For a private room in a private nursing facility, the costs in 2011 were $250 a day. That equates to more than $90,000 a year. This doesn’t include all of the peripheral costs, either. It doesn’t include hospital stays, injuries or even the comforts of entertainment, televisions, clothing, etc.
Clearly, few people can afford these costs without some type of supplement. Several states are already taking closer looks at their Medicaid programs in an effort of better providing for residents/patients/taxpayers while also keeping costs down. Remember, there are countless variables that are now a part of the collective Medicaid program that weren’t there as recently as a year ago.
By now, most of us have heard of how heavy the burden is for state Medicaid programs under the new healthcare laws. Half of the states have declined to take that road, while others are proceeding with a heavy degree of caution. What ultimately happens simply is not known. Every day brings something new and different from lawmakers.
These uncertainties highlight the importance of proper elder care planning and estate planning.
Never before has the role of an experienced Medicaid lawyer been so important. These attorneys can help ease the burden and fears for family members. It’s important to understand that timing is everything. With the Medicaid look back periods, too many have realized gifts made several years ago to a beloved grandchild or anyone else for that matter, are now costing them. That’s not to say giving gifts to our loved ones is not possible, it simply means proper planning ensures you’re not spending time or energy later explaining it.
As you can see, these types of diagnoses require a team effort of loving family members, qualified legal representation and skilled medical teams. Trust is everything. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your or your loved one’s legal needs.