Gayle Reeves' Blog

Alzheimer's

Gayle A. Reeves - Friday, October 30, 2009

Alzheimer's is a terrible, progressive disease that affects one's ability to make decisions regarding personal care and financial matters. This loss of mental abilities affects how a person conducts their daily life.

It also affects one's memory so that, in the late stages, there is no recognition of beloved family members. This diagnosis is devastating to the patient and to his/her family. One of the first questions that I am asked is, "What should I do?"

It is very important that a person with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's get their personal and financial affairs in order. He/She should have an updated and valid Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. These documents allow the client to express his/her desires with regard to who they want to have control over their finances, who they want to make medical decisions for them, and most importantly, what are their wishes regarding end-of-life. If you wait too long to have these documents prepared, it is likely that the client will not be competent to sign them. If that is the case, an application must be made to the Probate Court to have a guardian appointed.

It is also very important to think about long-term care planning. An average nursing home stay is 2 to 2 ½ years. A nursing home stay for an individual with Alzheimer's averages 7 to 11 years, providing there are no other medical issues. With nursing home costs averaging $75,000, this can have a financially devastating effect on the family. Long-term care planning is essential to provide a high quality of life for the Alzheimer's patient, yet maintaining the family's current standard of living.

It is critical to gather all of the financial information to determine which bills will need to be paid, which assets are available to pay for the person's care, and the sources of income that are available to pay the bills. This will aid in the determination of benefits that may be available to pay for the person's care.

The sooner these legal, financial and long-term care plans are made, the more the person with Alzheimer's will be able to

If you would like more information on planning for a person with Alzheimer's, please contact Gayle A. Reeves Co., L.P.A., Attorney at Law, Vineyard Square Plaza, 1607 State Route 60, Suite 10, Vermilion, OH 44089, call (440) 967-6565

Member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.