Did you know that National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is in November? During the annual public education campaign, affected and at-risk seniors, their family members and caregivers are given up to date information and support. Also included in the campaign are advocates across health care, the legal field and nonprofit communities. One goal of the campaign is the dispelling of common misconceptions, as such it is important to understand that Alzheimer’s disease is a lot more than just old age and forgetfulness. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease currently affects more than 5.8 million Americans and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Alzheimer’s, a brain disease, is the most common form of dementia. What is dementia? It is a general term for memory loss and the erosion of basic cognitive abilities. It is not a normal part of the aging process. Because the brain serves as the central computer for all of the body’s functions, affected individuals lose the ability to perform even simple daily tasks.
Forgetfulness and confusion, such as forgetting names, misplacing objects and mixing up times and places, may be the first symptoms to appear. Over time, the progressive nature of the disease will cause diminished thinking, judgment and behavior. Furthermore, jumbling words, difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions, struggling with routine tasks like getting dressed, and unpredictable behavior are all signs the disease is worsening.
In advanced stages, people living with Alzheimer’s can lose the ability to have conversations or respond to their surroundings. In addition, they may eventually become incapable of basic functions and cease to have the ability to cough, swallow or even breathe. People with Alzheimer’s disease live an average of just eight years after symptoms are first discovered.
Even though increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease, it is not strictly an elderly disease. About 200,000 Americans under age 65 have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Do you know someone experiencing abnormal memory loss? You should consider encouraging them to see a doctor. Skilled physicians can diagnose Alzheimer's disease with more than 90 percent accuracy. Although there is currently no cure, medical treatments can help slow the progression of many symptoms.
If you are affected by Alzheimer’s disease in any way, you are not alone. There is a worldwide effort that is fighting for a cure and organizing to support people in need during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and throughout the year. For more information or guidance concerning related legal matters, contact our office today.
It may be the worst nightmare for your parents or other senior loved one. After a lifetime of hard work and savings, the need for a nursing home may cause them to lose it all. While planning for long-term care may be best done before the care is indicated, that is not always possible. Sometimes an abrupt medical event or an unforeseen accident may result in a senior being placed in a nursing home, or perhaps, the senior was unaware of the necessity of long-term care planning. So, how can you help Florida seniors protect themselves, when entering a nursing home?
If the senior owns a home and Medicaid assists with the cost of a nursing home, following the senior’s passing, Medicaid may place a lien against the home, also known as “estate recovery,” for the cost paid out for the nursing home. If the senior owns a home and Medicaid is contributing to the cost of the nursing home, it may be important for the senior and/or family members to consult an elder law attorney as soon as possible after placement in the nursing home. There are some situations, which may prevent estate recovery, such as a spouse residing in the home, or a disabled child. In some instances, the senior may be able to transfer the home without creating a situation of Medicaid ineligibility.
Unfortunately, seniors who enter nursing homes can also become victims of financial elder abuse via less than honest employees, who obtain their personal information. Seniors should be instructed not to log into personal accounts from shared computers to avoid having personal information stolen. Some nursing homes offer banking services. Residents who bank with the nursing home, however, may unknowingly have funds withdrawn from their account. Another risk is that when pension and social security checks are mailed directly to a facility, they may be stolen. The nursing home is supposed to deposit such checks in a trust account and use them to pay the resident’s bills, but there have been instances where the funds were misappropriated. Not only is the resident out the money, but if his or her nursing home bill is not paid, the resident may be forced to leave the facility, as well. Thus, when a Florida senior enters a nursing home, it may be best to have a trusted friend or relative appointed as the durable power of attorney and to keep the senior’s private funds separate. The power of attorney can oversee the senior’s finances and help ensure that no suspect transactions are occurring.
In general, if you know a senior, who has entered a nursing home, it can be a good idea to meet the staff of the nursing home and visit frequently. Our office can assist with creating the proper documents to protect the senior’s assets and to safeguard them from the potential of financial abuse. Please reach out to our office today to schedule a meeting.