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"How to get Medi-Cal coverage for your nursing home care... without selling your home or leaving your family without a dime... Surprising ways to pay for your assisted living and long term care costs."

Elder Law Today Newsletter | October, 2011


Family Planning for Alzheimer's Disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive and fatal brain disease. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.”

There are now more than 5 million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated by the Alzheimer’s Association that every 72 seconds, someone develops this disease. The number of people surviving into their 80s and 90s is growing due to changes in demographics as well as advances in medicine; therefore, the number of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease will grow as a portion of this population.

Also according to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, including Medicare and Medicaid costs and the indirect cost to business of employees who are caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s, amount to more than $148 billion annually.” Much of the cost of care is absorbed by the Alzheimer’s patient and his or her family out of their own pocket.

Elder Law is Alzheimer’s planning. When a firm diagnosis has been made, people naturally begin to wonder, “What can I do?” “Is it going to get worse?” and, “Where can we get help?” Then a sense of panic sets in when the discussion turns to: “Who is going to take care of me... or Mom... or Dad?” “How much is it all going to cost? and “Where do we go from here?” “What are the legal and planning issues we should prepare for?”

You should consider joining the Alzheimer’s Association and find support groups to help you understand what to expect from this disease. You should also begin to explore resources for in-home care, assisted living facilities, and board and care facilities. We can help you with this information.

You should plan for how you are going to pay for the care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s. You should pursue long term care planning with your elder law attorney. You or your loved one may in the future need in-home care or may need to go to an assisted living facility. But how do you pay for this care?

You and your elder law attorney will take a look at all of your assets and various sources of income, to determine how to protect assets so that they last longer. Your estate planning documents should be updated to include asset protection and government benefits planning language.

For wartime veterans and surviving spouses of wartime veterans, the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit has proven to be a great resource for many of our clients. This benefit can help pay for in-home care and the costs of assisted living facilities. For the single veteran, the pension rate can be as much as $1,644 per month or $19,736 per year. For the surviving spouse, the pension rate can be as much as $1,056 per month, or $12,681 per year.

To help you get started, I have prepared a booklet entitled “The Alzheimer’s Legal Survival Kit.” If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this booklet, please e-mail to us or call our office.

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