New Study Identifies Four Possible Tools to Stave Off Mental Decline

With more than 47.5 million individuals affected by dementia worldwide and 7.7 million new cases annually, research is targeting ways to prevent or limit the impacts of the disease. Researchers in Finland believe they have identified four ways to stave off the mental decline that is becoming more common with older age. shutterstock_89751901

The study involved 1,260 people between the ages of 60 and 77. The participants were put into a gym program, an eating regimen based on a Nordic diet heavy in fish, and brain training over the course of two years. Researchers found that at the end of two years, those participating in these activities scored 25 percent higher than their peers. In certain tests, the difference between the two testing groups was even more pronounced: for tests involving the brain’s ability to regulate thought processes and organize, the group of individual participating in the plan developed by researchers scored 85 percent higher.

Activities that were a good match for the older individuals participating in the study included dancing, doing crosswords, computer games, and Sudoku. If you are concerned about your elderly family member’s health or if your family has already been impacted by the serious nature of dementia, meeting with an elder law attorney can help you understand your options. Set up a meeting today to learn more about planning for long term care and managing the health needs of a loved one with dementia through Medicaid planning. We can help at (601) 925-9797.

Medicaid Planning: Caring for a Blind or Disabled Child

John and Mary Bell live in Jackson, Mississippi. They are now in their mid-70’s and they just celebrated their 50th anniversary. The Bells have been blessed with three wonderful children. One is a nurse, one is a school teacher, and their youngest child, Tim, is not able to work. Tim is now in his late 40’s and lives in a group home. He receives Social Security (SSI) of about $650 a month and his parents have always supplemented his income.

Mr. and Mrs. Bell lead a modest life style. Mr. Bell receives Social Security of about $900 per month and Mrs. Bell gets about $650 per month. In addition, he has a pension of $350 per month. They are able to live on this and continue to save about $250 per month. Like most of their generation, the Bells are excellent savers. In fact, they have accumulated a nice little nest egg. Their assets are as follows: Residence $60,000, 1998 Buick $2,500, Certificates of Deposit $50,000, Mr. Bell’s IRA $8,000, Savings bonds $22,000, Money market $20,000, Total Countable Assets $100,000.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bell recently had a stroke and won’t be able to come home. He moved to the nursing home right up the street. Mrs. Bell is satisfied with the care he is getting… but her worst fears are coming to pass. That’s because she can’t care for herself…her Parkinson’s Disease has progressed to the point where she can’t stay at home either… and now that she has joined her husband in the nursing home, who will care for their son, Tim? And most of all, Mrs. Bell is concerned about the money. Mrs. Bell frets over the fact that the nursing home will cost about $10,000 a month for both of them… and that doesn’t count the cost of the medication.

You have good news for the Bells. You explain to them that under the Federal and State laws, Tim is considered to be permanently and totally disabled. Since that is the case, the Bells can give all their assets to Tim… or to a trust for Tim’s benefit… without incurring any transfer penalties. In other words, normally with both spouses in the nursing home, they would pay the cost of the nursing home out of their funds until their assets were down to $6,000. Under this scenario, their $100,000 in liquid assets would last about ten months … and they would end up spending all of Tim’s inheritance.

Fortunately, the news is even better than that. Under the “transfer to a blind or disabled child” section of the Medicaid law, Mr. and Mrs. Bell can transfer all of their assets to their son with a disability and incur no penalty whatsoever. Thus, she and her husband can make a gift of the entire $100,000 and qualify for Medicaid right away! Because Tim is receiving public benefits, they would need to give Tim’s money to him in a special type of trust that would not disqualify him for public benefits. The Bell’s feel better knowing that their son, Tim, will be cared for and they have preserved their life savings. To learn more, click here.

Important Legal Strategies For Dementia Patients In Mississippi | Clinton Alzheimer’s Lawyer

 

Elder care lawyers in Hinds County and surrounding areas work with families to prepare for any number of situations in the estate planning process. One circumstance which is especially relevant to elder care law is dementia. After all, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are almost exclusively conditions which appear or worsen with age.

Along with the emotional turmoil on the patient and family members, dementia also takes quite a financial toll. Alzheimer’s and related illnesses are typically degenerative, progressing slowly over time, while requiring considerable medical and personal care. Elder care lawyers in Hinds County, Mississippi have experience helping clients create plans which provide for both the medical and the quality-of-life aspects of these expenses.
Of course, early planning is of utmost importance. If it is suspected that you or a family member is developing Alzheimer’s, estate planning and other provisions should be arranged with an elder care lawyer as soon as possible. A dementia patient’s mental capacity will decline, and in order for predefined wishes to be followed, his or her current capacity cannot be in question. Getting started as soon as an issue is suspected is one of the best ways to ensure having the greatest say in the future.

Because of the progression of the disease, some of the most important decisions to be made are those of a medical nature. For example, a “health care power of attorney” needs to be drawn up to designate a trustworthy person to make medical decisions for the patient when he or she is no longer able to do so. If this person is not chosen in advance, it is likely the courts will need to appoint one at a later date. Again, taking care of this issue with an elder care lawyer in Hinds County, Mississippi now means that you have more control over what happens later.

Asset protection is another major concern for dementia patients here in Hinds County, Mississippi. The physical progression of Alzheimer’s can take many years, while the mental progression may be much faster. This means the individual may require specialized care (including monitoring, nursing, and other personal needs) for a very long time, therefore depleting existing finances. Learning how to maximize the value of assets now can vastly affect the quality of care one can afford later, and the funds available to other family members who depend on the sick individual, such as a spouse or disabled child. Without careful planning with a Mississippi elder care attorney, the individual’s illness can easily leave the entire family in poverty. There is also concern regarding estate planning, as the costs associated with dementia can easily wipe out any potential inheritance unless the proper plans have been put into place. Consultation with a qualified elder care attorney in Mississippi, such as a Mississippi Certified Elder Law Attorney, can show you and your family the options that are available to you.

When it comes to elder care, it makes good sense to seek a qualified attorney in Hinds County, Mississippi who can help navigate the ins and outs of the system as it relates the special needs of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you are ready to get started, simply call our Clinton estate planning and elder law firm and ask to schedule a complimentary Legacy Planning Session with the mention of this video.

Families are Primary Long Term Care Providers

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy states that “more than ever before, families are providing long-term care to older adults with limitations in the ability to perform tasks necessary for independent living. Nearly 25% of American households are providing care to people age 50 years and over.  The Jackson, Mississippi metro are is no exception.  Families are the alternative foundation for a stressed healthcare system. Hospital stays are shorter than ever and family caregivers are often expected to do what healthcare professionals once did.”

Family caregivers in Mississippi take over various responsibilities for their elders.  It may be just handling finances, running errands, going to doctor appointments or taking on full 24 hour care services.  In most cases one sibling in the family will become the main caregiver, but most successful ventures are supported by the entire family.  Many times this duty falls on the child who lives in the same city, such as Jackson, Mississippi.  More frequently than not, it is the oldest daughter.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child.  This may be true, but it takes a family to care for an aging parent.  As seniors lose physical and cognitive function they become vulnerable and unable to manage their own care.  Who better to know their needs and desires than their own children.  Even if professional care givers are providing services, family involvement makes the difference in quality of life for their parents.

“If one family member has been designated caregiver other members can give support with respite care, transportation to doctors, etc., everyone needs to be aware of all that is needed and be in total agreement to do it.”  “The 4 Steps of Long Term Care Planning

Experience has shown that even families that are close can quickly grow angry, jealous and hostile towards each other when an aging parent begins to need long term care. If a sibling moves into the parent’s home, others can easily be suspicious of ulterior motives and fear to lose their inheritance. On the other hand, the child doing the entire care taking becomes bitter and feels there is no support or help from siblings.

One example of a family misunderstanding is that of a brother accusing his sister of stealing all of the money from the sale of his parent’s home.

Karen, who was a single mom with two children, moved in with her parents when her father had a stroke to help her mother take care of him. Her mother was also disabled. Needing money to pay for a home care service, Karen helped her mother do a reverse mortgage on the home, which gave the needed funds. If communication had been open and Karen’s brother had known the need and been involved with his parents care, he would not have reacted so negatively when he eventually found out about the reverse mortgage.

Every family is different. Some families are close and some have never been compatible. If your communication is strained, consider having a professional mediator present at a family meeting. The mediator will be able to keep things calm and running smoothly and help work out each persons concern.

Family matters.  The experience of working together for their parents care can give aging parents and family members a peaceful, memorable experience.

Choice Of Nursing Home Requires Research

Almost half of all Americans over the age of 65 will spend time in a nursing home at some point in their lives. When one of your family members is in need of this type of care it is necessary to do plenty of research to find the best and safest facility within your budget. Considering the high number of nursing homes with serious care problems special attention is needed when choosing the nursing home that best fits the needs of the loved one in question and your family as a whole.

Selecting a nursing home is a personal decision and the medical needs of those going into a nursing home vary greatly. Some facilities serve special needs such as caring for Alzheimer’s patients and those with other physical and mental health challenges. Your family member may require a facility with specialized equipment on site, such as dialysis machines. Determining the needs of the individual is the first step before researching individual facilities.

Additional factors need to be considered in choosing a nursing facility, such as the geographic location and its proximity to family and friends. One way to get started on this endeavor would be to make a list of the most important characteristics that you are looking for in a nursing home. Then do some research and make a list of facilities that have these characteristics. This process will provide you with a starting point for more in-depth probing which will be the next step in the process.

Once you have compiled a list of facilities that meet your needs a visit to the nursing home is the logical next step. Some people choose to make an unannounced visit on the heels of an announced visit. Interviewing the staff is helpful in addition to common observations such as cleanliness, general mood of the residents, privacy, and available activities. It should be noted that there are several useful tools available at www.medicare.gov that can help you choose the best nursing home for your loved one.

Who Needs a Disability Plan?

A disability or incapacity plan allows you to make arrangements for your medical care and financial assets if you should become disabled to the point of not being able to act for yourself. In case you become mentally or physically disabled and need someone to speak for you, you can use your plan to name a financial or medical agent.

Retirees

For those over age 65, Alzheimer’s or other ailments that cause an inability to make one’s own choice are common. In your retirement years, there is a chance that you may need long term medical care due to a mental or physical disability. If that disability should leave you without a way to speak for yourself, it is important to have someone always on your side for the duration of your care.

With a disability plan, you can name the loved one of your choice to make decisions for you. Those decisions will likely be medical, but you can also name a financial agent to care for your retirement assets and property, and to invest them with the intention of providing income for your care needs.

Parents

If you have minor children and you become incapacitated, your family will be left without your earnings. With a disability plan in place, you can easily allow your spouse to use assets only in your name to provide for your children. Your disability plan can also allow you to name your spouse, or even another loved one if you prefer, to watch over your medical care. Without a disability plan, your family will have to wait for a court to make a decision about your state of mind and then name a guardian. Your spouse and children may endure a time of uncertainty.

Young Single People

Anyone can become disabled. Even if you are young and single, you should still consider planning for a possible incapacitation. Your disability plan can allow you to state your decisions on life support and terminal illness, and it can allow the family member or friend of your choice to act without the involvement of a court of law. If you don’t have a disability plan, you will have to endure a conservatorship, which is a court-supervised guardian program, to care for your needs and you may have no say on life support or terminal care.

What You Need to Know About a Financial POA

A POA, or power of attorney, is a common estate planning device that allows you to name an attorney-in-fact to handle your financial assets if needed.

Attorney-in-fact

When you create a Power of Attorney, you will have to decide what family member or friend is best suited for the position of Attorney-in-fact. If you are married, you may choose your spouse. You should, however, always choose someone who is organized and a good financial manager.

You must also choose someone who is trustworthy and will use the duties of attorney-in-fact for your benefit and not for his or her own benefit. Depending upon the size of your estate and your preferences, your attorney-in-fact’s responsibilities may include: income, expenses, financial accounts, investments, retirement accounts, personal property and real estate.

Use in Everyday Life

You can use a Power of Attorney in your everyday life if you wish. In order for your POA to be active as soon as you sign it, it must be Durable. A Durable Financial Power of Attorney allows your attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf anytime he or she is needed. These duties may range from signing a single document to running your business while you are out of the country.

Disability Planning

If you don’t have a need for a Power of Attorney in everyday life, or if you prefer to keep full control of your assets, you should still consider a POA for disability planning. A “Springing” Financial Power of Attorney is often used for incapacity arrangements. Your attorney-in-fact will not have control of your assets until you become incapacitated and unable to manage your own affairs. Then the POA “springs” into action and allows your attorney-in-fact to pay your bills and provide a way to pay for medical care. However, I usually do not recommend a springing power because of the potential difficulty in proving that the springing event has occurred. The only thing worse than not having a power of attorney is having one that is not recognized, and the more contingencies that are placed in a document, the more likely that it will not be recognized by an institution.