As elder law attorneys, we help people here in the greater Indianapolis area who are looking ahead toward the eventualities that they may face near the end of their lives.
To be quite frank, some of these contingencies are not very pleasant to contemplate, but you have to face the facts if you want to be properly prepared.
Incapacity and Alzheimer’s Disease
A very significant percentage of elders become unable to handle all of their own affairs at some point in time. Incapacity can strike in many different forms, but Alzheimer’s disease is a threat that everyone should understand.
This disease is very much in the public consciousness in a general sense, but there are some things about it that may surprise you. Everyone knows that Alzheimer’s causes dementia, and this is a very challenging condition for the victims and their families. However, it is also deadly. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
The United States Census Bureau conducts a headcount every 10 years, and they use the data that they collect to frame certain demographic trends. According to their research, the segment of the population that was between 85 and 94 years of age was the fastest-growing age group between the last two censuses.
If you are fortunate enough to live into your late sixties, statistically speaking, it is likely that you will live into your mid-eighties at minimum. This is the realistic life expectancy that you should be working with when you are developing a plan for aging.
The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the way in the fight against this disease, and there is a great deal of very useful information available on their website. They have found that around 13 percent of all senior citizens have contracted Alzheimer’s disease, but the figure rises to 45 percent when you are talking about people who are 85 years of age and older.
When you combine these statistics, you can see that it is likely that you will live into your mid-eighties if you are fortunate enough to celebrate your 67th birthday, and almost half of people in this age group are Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Given this reality, it is prudent to prepare for this possibility in advance. You could name someone to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation through the execution of a durable power of attorney.
There is also the matter of long-term care. Clearly, many people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s induced dementia are residing in nursing homes. The average annual cost for a private room in an Indianapolis area nursing home is over $97,000, and people often require care for multiple years.
The Medicare program will pay for up to 100 days of convalescent care, but it will not pay for long-term custodial care, which is the type of care that you would receive in a nursing home.
There are steps that you can take to address potential long-term care costs. You are probably aware of the fact that Medicaid is a government health insurance program for people with limited financial resources. Medicaid will pay for long-term care, and it is the solution for a very significant percentage of seniors.
To qualify for Medicaid, you could give gifts to your loved ones, and direct gift giving is a possibility. It would also be possible to convey assets into an irrevocable Medicaid trust to get assets out of your own name with Medicaid eligibility in mind.
When you hear the above, you may decide to give gifts if and when you find out that you need to enter a nursing home. Unfortunately, this would result in a penalty, because you have to complete your gift giving at least five years before you apply for Medicaid. This is why careful advance planning is important.
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Alzheimer’s disease strikes a very significant percentage of seniors, and of course this disease is not the only cause of incapacity. You should certainly take steps to protect yourself as you preserve your legacy when you are planning your estate.
Our firm is here to help if you would like to discuss your options with a licensed professional. We offer no obligation consultations, and you can send us a message through our contact page or call us at (317) 684-1100 to set up an appointment.