Elder law attorneys help individuals and their families address challenges that can confront senior citizens. Alzheimer’s disease can have a major impact in this regard, and we will share some eye-opening facts about the disease in this post.
A Leading Cause of Death
People are well aware that Alzheimer’s causes cognitive impairment, but a lot of people are not aware of its deadly nature. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or dementia caused by another underlying condition.
There are campaigns that draw attention to breast cancer and prostate cancer, but Alzheimer’s kills more people than both of these cancers combined. Over the last 20 years, Alzheimer’s deaths have increased by 145 percent.
At the present time, over 6 million Americans are Alzheimer’s sufferers, and this number is expected to exceed 13 million by 2050. From a financial perspective, costs associated with the treatment of dementia will reach $355 billion this year.
People experiencing cognitive impairment will need help with their day-to-day needs. It is impossible to describe the emotional impact, and there can be considerable time demands. Expenses will sometimes enter the picture as well, and some caregivers are still providing day-to-day support for their children.
Professionals recommend open communication among family members and friends who may be able to help out. If you are a caregiver, you should allow yourself to feel frustration at times, and you should accept your limitations.
At some point, the necessary level of care can exceed the capabilities of unpaid caregivers, and a nursing facility with memory care capabilities can be the only option. Unfortunately, Medicare will not pay for a stay in a nursing home.
Medicaid does cover nursing home care, and that’s the good news. On the downside, it is a need-based program so you can’t qualify if you have more than $2000 in countable assets.
A homeowner can potentially gain eligibility, but there is an equity limit of $603,000 in North Carolina and Kentucky in 2021. Though this is a positive, you have to be aware of Medicaid estate recovery.
The program is required to seek reimbursement from the estates of people who were enrolled in the program prior to death. This would not apply if a spouse is still residing in the home, and there are some other exceptions that we will not get into here.
If you want to implement a proactive nursing home asset protection plan, you could convey your home and other countable resources into a Medicaid trust.
This would be an irrevocable trust, and you would not be able to access the principal, but you could receive distributions of the trust’s earnings. As long as you fund the trust at least five years before you apply for Medicaid, the assets would not count.
Elder Financial Abuse
There is another threat that can be exacerbated by Alzheimer’s disease. Elder financial abuse is very common, and annual losses are estimated to be in the billions of dollars. Most cases go unreported so it’s hard for experts to accurately gauge the full extent of the problem.
While there are scam artists that target vulnerable seniors, most of the cases are perpetrated by family members, so-called friends, paid caregivers, and other professionals.
The risks are very real, but there are legal steps you can take to mitigate your exposure to elder financial abuse.
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We are here to help if you would like to develop a plan for aging that culminates in the appropriate passing of your legacy. There are some universal concerns, but there is no one-size-fits-all estate plan because the ideal approach will depend on the circumstances.
When you choose our firm, we will work with you to develop a custom crafted plan that is ideal for you and your family.
You can schedule a consultation at our Ashland, Kentucky estate planning office if you call us at 606-324-5516; our Florence, Kentucky office can be reached at 859-372-6655. The number in Charlotte, North Carolina or Huntersville, North Carolina is 704-944-3245, and you can use our contact form if you would rather send us a message.