World Alzheimer’s Month Highlights Need for Proper Care Planning

Local residents who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive diseases face a series of mental, medical, and emotional challenges. Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys work with many families who have loved ones battling these disabling diseases. Unfortunately, many area residents fail to take appropriate preparatory steps before a victim’s mental capacity is lost. As a result, these families often face difficulties with inheritances and have challenges defining who is in control of legal, financial, and medical issues. Many also struggle to protect the senior’s assets from long-term care costs.

Advocates are working to raise awareness of these issues to help the thousands of local families who are forced to deal with the situation each year after a dementia diagnosis. For example, the New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association began programs this week to support September’s designation as World Alzheimer’s Month. The local organization is sponsoring a variety of activities to raise money for research, support those battling the disease, and educate local families on the importance of conducting New York Alzheimer’s planning. The local advocacy group is offering care consultation services to help families who face many challenges following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The organization explained that “the goal is for each family to develop a better understanding of the disease, make a plan to secure needed care, and develop strategies for the best possible symptom management and communication.”

For area community members, the necessary planning usually involves a visit to a New York elder law estate planning attorney to ensure that all the legal affairs are in order. Timing is important, because victims of these diseases often lose the ability to communicate. It is vital to work through these planning issues in the earliest stages of the disease.

A legal professional will be able to help the family with estate planning issues like updating inheritance documents, drafting a Power of Attorney, and designating a Health Care Proxy. In addition, an attorney that possesses expertise in elder law will be able to advise the family on how to apply for Medicaid benefits and to protect assets from possible long-term healthcare costs. One of the most common ways that assets are protected is through the use of a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. These trusts often involve the designation of adult children as “trustees” to manage the trust. The individual’s assets are then placed in the trust to protect them from the requirement that they be “spent down” before the senior qualifies for Medicaid assistance. Many Alzheimer’s patients spend years needing close medical care. That care often costs over ten thousands of dollars a month, and so planning ahead for that need is essential.

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