By Jason A. Penrod, B.C.S., CELA, Family Elder Law
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Unfortunately, many seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are unprepared for the legal challenges and care costs that await. Upon receiving a diagnosis, it is imperative to take these four actions to help your loved one navigate future needs. For help in implementing the below actions, seek the guidance of a Life Care Planning Attorney or Board Certified Elder Law Attorney as soon as possible.
- Become a Great Student.
First, learn all that you can about Alzheimer’s and its effect on your loved one as well as your family. The Alzheimer’s Association has phenomenal educational resources on their website. In fact, the site hosts a page that is dedicated to caregivers.
In addition, attend appointments with the doctors who are treating your loved one. Make a list of questions to ask and get input on the long-term care needs of your loved one.
2. Choose Key Decision Makers.
Assemble the family and discuss the challenges that lie ahead. Unify and keep the needs of your loved one with Alzheimer’s as the focus. Moreover, communicate clearly and ask for input from your loved one.
Choose the key decision makers to help your loved one. Who is best equipped to make medical and care decisions for your loved one? Who will be authorized to manage finances?
3. Execute Health Care Surrogate, Power of Attorney, Wills and Trusts.
Since you have chosen your key decision makers, it is time to establish your loved one’s legal and estate planning. For medical decisions, a Living Will and Health Care Surrogate should be executed empowering the person chosen to make medical decisions. For financial affairs, a Durable Power of Attorney is needed to empower the person chosen to make financial decisions.
Also, it is important to execute a Last Will & Testament and/or a Revocable Living Trust to detail how your loved one want to leave assets to family after he or she passes.
4. Perform Financial and Care Planning.
Finally, assess your loved one’s finances situation while anticipating long-term care costs. Where will care occur? At home? Assisted living? Nursing Home? And how will that care be paid? Since nursing home costs often exceed $10,000+/month, you may look to access governmental benefits such as Medicaid, VA Benefits, etc. to defray those costs.
Formulating a comprehensive plan for a loved one that has Alzheimer’s can alleviate stress from families and allow their loved ones to be involved in such planning. Do not hesitate, ask for help when needed and know that the Alzheimer’s Association is always there for support.
Only the 20th attorney to be Board Certified as an Expert by the Florida Bar and the National Elder Law Foundation, Jason is the founder of a Life Care Planning Firm named Family Elder Law with offices in Lakeland, Lake Wales & Sebring, Florida. His team’s primary focus is developing comprehensive plans for the legal, financial, and care needs that accompany aging.