An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be a devastating blow to a family. Confusion and uncertainty are common after diagnosis, and many are left wondering what steps they need to take to protect their diagnosed loved one. As Elder Law experts, we encourage those recently diagnosed to update their financial and healthcare plans as soon as possible. Retaining an Elder Law Attorney to get the correct legal documents in place for a person with Alzheimer’s can greatly decrease a family’s stress.
Important Financial & Health Documents for People with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s progresses at different rates over time. As an Alzheimer’s patient’s mental capacity declines, someone they trust will need to take charge of financial and medical decisions. If a person with Alzheimer’s has specific wishes, it’s important to legally document them before their capacity comes into question.
Important documents every person with Alzheimer’s should have are:
- Advance Directive for Healthcare – States the health care wishes of the person with Alzheimer’s once they can no longer make decisions for themselves.
- HIPAA Authorization – Designates who your personal health information can be disclosed to.
- Durable Power of Attorney – Places someone in charge of financial decisions once a person with Alzheimer’s no longer can make them.
- Living Trust – Appoints a trustee to handle property and finances for an Alzheimer’s patient. The trustee can use the assets in the trust to pay for health care.
- Will – Indicates how to distribute a person’s assets and estate upon their death.
Funding Long-Term Alzheimer’s Care
Alzheimer’s takes an emotional toll on families, but prolonged medical care can also drain finances. The physical progression of the disease can take many years, while the mental progression may be much faster. Alzheimer’s patients typically require specialized care (monitoring, nursing, etc.) for a long time, which can deplete existing finances. Learning how to maximize the value of assets now can vastly affect the affordability and quality of care later.
How an Elder Law Attorney can Help
Elder Law attorneys have experience helping clients create plans that provide for both medical and quality-of-life expenses. They can help navigate the ins and outs of the system as it relates the special needs of those with Alzheimer’s. The sooner you plan, the more control you have over what happens later.