The Alzheimer’s Association says that “of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s or dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older.” With approximately 46 million Americans over the age of 65, that means that one in ten people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be a difficult task, both physically and emotionally.
A parent or loved one may have started to show signs of dementia but have remained lucid and functional the majority of the time. It can be difficult to determine when a loved one becomes totally disabled due to their dementia, but it is important to start planning with an elder law attorney before they get to that point of total disability/incapacity. Better yet, take a proactive approach and follow these guidelines before dementia is even on the horizon.
How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help:
Get a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy in Place
Early on, when one is mentally competent, an individual should consider naming someone close to them (who they trust implicitly) as their durable power of attorney and/or health care proxy, with alternates in place in case the named individual fails to serve. This allows trusted fiduciaries to make legal, financial and health decisions for them if dementia progresses.
Create an Estate Plan or consider Medicaid Protection Options
It is always best to have an estate planning attorney draft an estate plan before dementia sets in. Also, with any asset-transfers having to clear a 5-year lookback in Massachusetts, if one desires to create an estate plan designed to protect their assets from potential future Medicaid (MassHealth) attachment, proactive planning becomes even more important. Creating a “death or incapacity fire-drill” ahead of time by documenting such things as assets, account information, documents, insurance policies, online user names and passwords, etc. can help the heirs handle things when they no longer can.
Choose End-of-Life Preferences
Stating one’s end-of-life preferences in a written Living Will is very important. Going over different situations while one is still thinking clearly and without heightened emotions is extremely important. During that time, an individual can rationally decide if they want to be kept alive on feeding tubes, or if they want a DNR put in place, etc. These decisions are personal ones that should be thought out well before dementia sets in.
Cape Cod Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney
At Case Estate Law, P.C. we provide comprehensive services tailored to meet our clients’ needs. Please contact our Cape Cod Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys for a COMPLIMENTARY CONSULTATION today at (508) 790-3050.