KCUR.org reports that approximately five million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease. As baby boomers age and the general demographics of the population become older, the number of patients with Alzheimer’s is expected to almost triple by the year 2050. Alzheimer’s is an incurable and progressive medical condition. Many patients live for a long time with dementia. Care for Alzheimer’s patients can be difficult, especially as the condition progresses.
When a patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the patient and his family members should consult with an estate planning attorney to develop a plan for the future. Decisions will need to be made on what types of care the patient is to receive. Plans also need to be made regarding how to pay for longterm care if or when the patient needs to be admitted to a nursing home. If there are not plans in place to say who will manage the patient’s affairs and make healthcare decisions when the patient is unable to, these issues need to be addressed. If the patient is still of sound mind, he should make decisions on who will inherit his estate and how property will be transferred after his death.
Parman and Easterday has extensive experience with the estate planning process. Our attorneys have assisted many families with Alzheimer’s planning. We can provide invaluable guidance as you create a plan to face this diagnosis head-on and to ensure all your affairs are in order. Call us as soon as a diagnosis occurs so there is still time to plan for the future.
Music Provides Relief to Alzheimer’s Patients
In one Midwest community, a unique approach is being used to provide help to Alzheimer’s patients: a pilot music program. The program is being implemented in an area with one of the nation’s highest rates of patients on Medicare diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Twenty-two percent of Medicare patients in this county have been diagnosed with dementia, which is nearly double the state and national averages and nearly double the rate of dementia in surrounding counties. Genetic and environmental factors are suggested as possible reasons for this high dementia rates, but there is no clear answer as to why so many people in this area suffer from the condition.
With so many dementia patients, there is a strong focus on improving quality of life and lessening symptoms of this disease. A pilot program, called Music and Memory, involves giving dementia patients iPods preloaded with music the patients like. Students from a nearby high school have volunteered to find out what music the Alzheimer’s patients like so customized playlists can be created.
The hope is that the music will prevent agitation, which tends to be a problem among dementia patients, especially as evening approaches each day. Nighttime agitation has become so common it has a name: sundowning. The music may also help patients stay connected to their memories longer, so even as the disease progresses patients may be able to remember more for longer periods of time. Music may be beneficial for retaining memories because motor memory, which is activated when they danced to music, is stored in a different part of the brain than episodic memory, which is affected by Alzheimer’s.
How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help with Alzheimer’s Planning
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is life changing for a patient and family members. It is imperative that once diagnosed, strategic steps be taken. Addressing how nursing home care will be paid, what kinds of medical care will be provided in the future, who will manage assets, and who will inherit the remaining estate will allow a patient and family to retain as much control as possible in a difficult situation.
Parman & Easterday can provide legal representation following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Our compassionate and dedicated estate planning attorneys offer advice on how to take advantage of the legal tools available to help manage Alzheimer’s while maintaining patient autonomy and dignity. To learn more and to get the help you need, call today at (405) 294-6860, (913) 385-9400 or contact us online to learn more. You can also join us for a free seminar to learn more about estate and Alzheimer’s planning.
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