Ken Dodson was having memory issues and went to his doctor; unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. While this is always tragic, this particular case was even more so, since Ken was only 29 years old at that time. The doctors only gave him 7 to 10 “good years.” His wife, Nikki, told Fox News: “I am married to two different people. I have my husband, and I have the person I care for.”
Early onset Alzheimer’s disease isn’t that common, but Alzheimer’s for those over 65 is. There are 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease, but only 5 percent have such a diagnosis prior to the age of 65.
According to HelpGuide.org, the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease (and the similar Dementia) can be reduced by what they call the: “Six Pillars of Alzheimer’s Prevention” which are a “combination of healthy habits, including eating right, exercising, staying mentally and socially active, and keeping stress in check.” They claim that by doing these things, one can “…slow down, or even reverse, the process of deterioration.”
All those 55 and older should be aware of the potential for Alzheimer’s and take these 6 steps to avoid this. Sometimes, the risk is hereditary and cannot be avoided. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “those who have a parent, brother, sister or child with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness. When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics) or environmental factors, or both, may play a role.”
If there is a hereditary risk, or certainly if there is a diagnosis of the disease, the family will often ask what they can do to cover the high costs of care. Most are aware that Alzheimer’s disease is progressive -- and at the later stages there may need to be twenty-four-hour custodial care for the protection of the patient and others. In that event, most families will have to look at nursing home care.
In order to qualify for the nursing home care, an individual -- or a couple facing Alzheimer’s with a spouse -- can keep very few assets unless proper legal action is taken. If one acts quickly, there are certain types of legal devices, such as trusts, that can be used to protect all of the assets. Otherwise there will have to be a spend-down depleting most of the estate and this can leave the individual or the the healthy spouse impoverished.
At Heritage Elder Law & Planning we are trained to help those that are struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. There are sound legal strategies to help one get the care they need while at the same time preserving assets. Contact us anytime for a consultation.