Estate Planning for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, chronic disease that calls for constant care that is delivered over time and fluctuates day-to-day.  The kind of care needed, known as chronic care, takes the form of daily personal-care assistance, medication distribution, supervision, companionship, helping with chores, etc. Chronic care systems vary from state to state; it includes both community-based and institutional care providers.  There are also state, federal, and private funding sources available.

The need for chronic health care system is ever growing, and the health care professionals can no longer rely on the once abundant Medicare and Medicaid programs to subsidize the chronic care their patients require.  Alzheimer’s is fast becoming the most prevalent and disabling chronic illness in the United States.  As chronic care systems strain to capacity, Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones should utilize their own resources in the most effective way to ensure the quality of their care.  Here are a few strategies to aid in the planning effort.

Step 1: Advance Directives

– Once an individual with Alzheimer’s disease has lost their memory, ability to reason, and ability to understand consequences, it is too late to designate someone to take care of their decisions.  Choosing a decision-maker in advance of incapacity can be invaluable when trying to maintain the quality of life for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

– There are five advance directives that must be considered as early as possible: a power of attorney, a health care proxy, a will, a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, and a living will.  The earlier you can get to an estate planning attorney to establish these directives, the better off you and your loved one will be.

Step 2: Estate Inventory

–       An estate inventory is essentially a snapshot of the resources you or your loved one have that can be used to subsidize care giving.  We cannot efficiently plan or manage long-term care without an inventory of the assets at your disposal.

–       There are six long-term care resources: Health Insurance, Income/Assets, Community Resources, Family/Friends, Home Environment, and the Client’s Self-Care Capacity.

Step 3: Care Needs Assessment

–       A care needs assessment for an Alzheimer’s patient examines what the patient requires, how much care can be provided from the family, the configuration of the home, and the patient’s capabilities.

–       These are best performed by family members or close friends.  A care needs assessment will help predict the gradual increase in level of care.

–       Families can also hire independent care managers  or their local elder service agencies to perform the assessment.

Step 4: Defining the Options

–       Once the advance directives are in place, the resources are organized, and the care needs are assessed, the real planning can start.  It is important to consider both short term and long term needs.

–       Safety, resource limitations, and behavior management are all options that must be considered.

Long-term care is a journey, one that must be planned for extensively.  Your plan must be adaptable and based on correct information.  The more knowledge you can gather, the better.  Working to plan for long-term care can be a struggle.  If you are struggling, the help of an estate planning lawyer can make a huge difference.  Don’t hesitate to contact estate planning lawyer Adam Tobin with any questions or to schedule a free consultation.

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