Every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s. If you are a woman your chances of developing Alzheimer's (or related dementia) are 1 in 6 at age 60, and your chances of developing breast cancer are 1 in 11. Many breast cancers are now curable, but there is no cure for dementia. With the risk of developing this disease being so high, there are some easy ways to protect your loved one and your family from the financial consequences of this disease.
An Estate Plan designed for What Happens if You Don’t Die
Traditional Estate Plans (Wills and Living Trusts) are designed to take care of what happens when you die. An Estate Plan is supposed to make sure that when you pass your children inherit your money with the least hassle and taxes possible. It is important that everyone have a plan for what happens when you die.
As an Elder Law Attorney, I know that as a person ages they need a plan that takes care of both what happens when you die and what happens if you have memory impairment or a stroke that takes away your ability to communicate or write.
Most Wills and Living Trusts forget to plan for DEMENTIA and DISABILITY. A plan designed for DEMENTIA and DISABILITY will make sure that you have a person designated to take care of your bills, and the decisions about your care, and it is designed to take advantage of any Veteran’s Benefits, Medi-Cal or other public benefits you may be entitled to.
An Advance Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney For Finances READILY AVAILABLE
On my website, I have a downloadable Advance Healthcare Directive available so that if you are taking your loved one to the hospital you can have them fill out this VERY IMPORTANT FORM.
In my office, this deceptively simple form can take over an hour to discuss and complete as the decisions regarding end-of-life treatment are not easy to think about or discuss. This document is THE MOST IMPORTANT LEGAL DOCUMENT DURING INCAPACITY.
If you don’t want your spouse to make these decisions it is imperative you sign this document. Few people realize that it was a signed HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVE that gave Casey Kasem’s daughters the right to seek court intervention when Jean Kasem refused to let his children and friends see him.
This was also the document where Casey Kasem told the world it was his wish not to be kept alive when it was clear that he would not recover from his illness. As to a Power of Attorney for Finances when you sign this document you need to realize it is a license to steal.
The person you give a power of attorney to has access to all your accounts UNLESS you have the Power of Attorney for Finances carefully drafted by an attorney who can limit the power to protect you.
Keep in Touch and Monitor
The signs of dementia are subtle as early signs often involve issues of judgment and the memory issues seem mild. An example of an early sign of dementia was my mother paying $450.00 for a new manual thermostat ($45 at any home repair store) because the heating guy who came for a FREE inspection suggested it. Of course, when he left she realized her stupidity.
Further, since short-term memory goes first most people can fake their way through almost every interaction for years. If you notice that your loved one forgets when the routine is different (e.g. that you were taking them to a different church on Sunday) this is a sign especially if you told them the night before.
If someone wants to abuse a person with dementia they will almost always start by isolating them so BE CONCERNED if your loved one doesn’t answer your calls (even if they can’t talk).
If something feels off there probably is something wrong. Fights to see a parent (or loved one)can be difficult when an abuser gets in the house as we currently have no laws which allow a person to ask for the right to visit.
However, the sooner you act the better your chances are of preventing the isolation. Be a pest, and monitor as much as you can you may save your loved one’s life and life savings.