Elder Law Services and Memory Care for Alzheimer’s Patients
The Alzheimer’s Association says more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Meanwhile, more than 40 million people in the U.S. provide unpaid eldercare, assistance to someone age 65 or older who needs help because of a condition related to aging, according to federal statistics.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. At some point, an elder suffering from Alzheimer’s will need round-the-clock professional care. Despite how much a spouse or younger family members care about an elder with Alzheimer’s, they will need to make decisions and take action, which may require assuming legal responsibility for the senior.
At Brady Cobin Law Group in Raleigh, NC, our elder law attorneys can assist you as you make plans for your later years or if you need to make decisions regarding the welfare of an elderly loved one. If you are assisting a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, we can help you help them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Raleigh elder law lawyer.
Why Do I Need an Elder Law Attorney?
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another cause of a loved one’s cognitive decline creates significant challenges for the entire family. In addition to the patient’s healthcare needs, the individual who is ill often has financial obligations and assets that are part of a typical adult’s life. It falls to a spouse or adult child to take over the responsibilities of the person in declining health as he or she loses the ability to act on their own behalf.
An elder law attorney’s assistance may be valuable in three ways as a senior citizen’s mental faculties diminish due to illness and age:
- Helping the senior make decisions while they are still able to express their desires, such as by executing the following estate planning instruments:
- Financial and health care powers of attorney, which name an individual(s) to make decisions for them when they cannot
- Authorization to access their medical information, so designated loved ones can stay informed about their condition
- Health care directive, also known as a living will, which states what medical care the person wishes to receive if they become incapacitated
- Long-term care planning for a loved one’s eventual need for Medicaid eligibility to cover long-term care, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing.
- Helping family members seek guardianship for a loved one who is approaching or has already lost the legal capacity to act in his or her own best interests.
An elder law attorney can also help families find and arrange placement in long-term care facilities for loved ones whose dementia and/or other disabilities require professional care, including facilities with memory care programs.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care is therapeutic care specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
When an elderly person is no longer safe or healthy living on their own, they may enter assisted living. An assisted living facility houses residents who are able to communicate their needs but require personal care support. They may need help with medicine, grooming, bathing, toileting, eating, and other daily activities.
Most assisted living facilities also offer a higher level of care for dementia patients. Residents whose memory loss and confusion make them no longer able to perform daily activities also may suffer anxiety, disorientation, and delusion. They require closer supervision and more assistance to ensure that their physical and emotional needs are met.
Care for residents with more advanced Alzheimer’s may take place on a secure wing of an assisted living home. Staff members in a memory care facility are specially trained to work with people who have cognitive impairments. In addition to providing a smaller staff-to-resident ratio, memory care seeks to keep residents on a daily routine, which is comforting, and surround them with mementos from their past to promote additional comfort.
When Is It Time to Put a Parent Into a Long-Term Care Facility?
It is common to feel anxious and guilty when considering moving a loved one into a nursing home or another type of long-term care facility. You feel a sense of responsibility for your loved one. You may not be confident that others will care for your loved one as attentively as you have.
But at some point, when caregivers weigh their abilities against an Alzheimer’s patient’s needs, most conclude that 24-hour professional care is necessary. For most families, that means moving the patient into an assisted living facility.
A Place for Mom, a senior-living referral service, offers several questions to ask yourself about whether it’s time for assisted living:
Does your loved one require help with activities of daily living?
Medication management is a primary concern for seniors and caregivers who assist them with ADLs, A Place for Mom says. Errors in medication management can pose a real danger for seniors. Assisted living facilities are staffed by nurses who can help seniors take their medications. In addition to providing routine assistance with daily activities, assisted living facilities provide meals and snacks, and take care of all of a resident’s housekeeping needs, including laundry services.
Does your loved one need more opportunities for socialization?
Alzheimer’s patients often become isolated because it is increasingly confusing and sometimes scary to participate in social activities. But assisted living staff form positive bonds with residents and help them to participate in daily group activities.
Would you and your loved one benefit from care coordination?
Assisted living facilities often have doctors, physical therapists, and other health professionals who provide services on-site and will advise family members of important issues. For residents who want to see their own doctors, transportation to nearby appointments is provided.
Can you continue to provide adequate care long-term?
Are you sacrificing your own physical and mental health as you care for your loved one? Long-term caregivers have reported high stress, symptoms of depression, and diminished physical and emotional health. There’s also a hidden cost of family caregiving, which can mean lost income for primary caregivers and the costs of home remodeling to add accommodations such as grab bars, safety locks, and wheelchair ramps.
Does the treating physician recommend assisted living?
A trusted doctor’s opinion can comfort a caregiver, providing assurance that you are doing the right thing. It can boost the senior’s confidence and enthusiasm for the decision to move to assisted living.
There are more than 800,000 Americans residing in assisted living and about 900 assisted living communities in North Carolina. About 40% of assisted living residents have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Most residents need help with only a few activities of daily living and do not require 24-7 skilled nursing care.
Many seniors move to continuing care retirement communities, which allow residents access to independent housing (houses or apartments), assisted living, and skilled nursing care as they need them, all on one campus.
Our knowledgeable elder law attorneys can help you with many sources of information about facility-based long-term care suitable for a loved one or yourself.
Why You Should Hire An Elder Law Attorney
As we age, health issues become inevitable. Serious health conditions present special legal challenges that are better addressed ahead of time instead of in response to a health emergency or when a caregiver is at their wits’ end.
At the Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC, our dedicated Raleigh elder law attorneys can help you identify the plans you need to have in place to:
- Ensure your wishes are clear in the event that you become incapacitated
- Assume responsibility for the care of a loved one who has become incapacitated
- Make financial arrangements for your loved one’s long-term care needs
If you or your loved one is a military veteran, you should know that veterans have many options for assistance with long-term care. In addition to medical care, home health care, and other home and community-based services, veterans’ benefits may cover assisted-living facility costs for vets who meet eligibility, income, and disability requirements.
An elder law attorney with Brady Cobin Law Group can meet with you to discuss your needs and options. We will work with you to document your wishes legally. If you find yourself in crisis, we can help you control all the moving pieces and your costs.
Failure to have estate planning and elder care documents in place can result in a judge (who likely does not know you or your loved one) appointing someone to make decisions for you that are subject to ongoing supervision of the court. You do not have to let that happen.
Contact Our North Carolina Elder Law Attorneys
With more than 35 years of experience, the Brady Cobin Law Group has earned a reputation for honoring the life, work, and charity of every individual we assist. We understand the unique issues people face as they grow older. We can work to develop plans that protect you and your family.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our experienced Raleigh elder law lawyers.