Special Needs & Elder Law Blog by Jesse Bone

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Behavior Changes Are Often First Signs of Dementia

New Checklist Helps Catch Symptoms Earlier

Researchers presenting at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2016 (AAIC 2016) in July introduced and described a new condition known as mild behavioral impairment (MBI) that may be a forerunner of dementia.

They also proposed a new MBI checklist that physicians and research professionals can use to help recognize and measure sharp changes in mood and behavior that may precede the memory and thinking problems of dementia.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What Has Happened to Long Term Care Insurance?

Over recent years, many people have purchased long term care (LTC) insurance to protect themselves against the rising costs of care in their final years. But lately, policy holders have seen their premiums rise and/or benefits decrease. Two of the largest LTC insurance companies, MetLife and Unum, recently appeared before the Florida insurance commissioner to explain why they asked some of their policy holders to pay double what they paid in premiums the previous year.

Unum explained that when it entered this market in the late 1980s, they determined their prices using the best data available about how future experience would develop. But, over the next decades, they discovered their assumptions were very wrong.
Read more . . .

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Who Will Make Decisions About Your Health Care If You Cannot?

A Health Care Power of Attorney, also called a Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, lets you give legal authority to another person (a proxy or agent) to make decisions about your health care if you are unable to make them yourself. This prevents the courts from getting involved if there is disagreement between family members and/or the medical community as to what actions you would want taken.

Keep in mind that you will continue to make decisions about your care for as long as you are able. You are only naming someone as a successor, to step in and act for you when you cannot. This document can be valuable even for short periods of time, such as if you are recovering from surgery.
Read more . . .

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wrong Mix of Medications Can Lead to Faulty Alzheimer's Diagnosis

The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss, confusion and changes in personality or mood. However, these symptoms can also be caused by medications, supplements and vitamins, or a dangerous mix of these—and often results in a false diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

The list of drugs that can cause dementia-like symptoms is long and includes:

* antidepressants * antihistamines

* anti-Parkinson drugs * anti-anxiety medications

* cardiovascular drugs * anticonvulsants

* corticosteroids * narcotics

* sedatives * statins

The elderly are especially at risk of developing dementia-like symptoms because their bodies are not able to process medications as well as a younger person’s does. A lower metabolism, less lean body mass, less water in the body, and decreased kidney and liver functions make it harder to clean out toxins. As a result, drugs can accumulate in the body.
Read more . . .

Friday, July 15, 2016

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's

Early diagnosis of dementia provides the best opportunities for treatment, support and planning for the future. The Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Long-Term Care Costs Continue to Rise

Genworth, a long-term care insurance provider, has just released the findings of its 2016 survey on the costs of providing long-term care. Not surprisingly, costs have increased since the 2015 survey.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Employee Benefits and Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

Getting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for those under age 65 can be difficult. Early-onset Alzheimer’s, which can even strike people in their 30s and 40s, affects less than 5% of all Alzheimer’s patients. Because doctors don’t usually suspect Alzheimer’s at such young ages, the symptoms are often attributed to other causes, such as depression, stress, and even (in women) menopause.

But it’s important that employees get the diagnosis as early as possible, in order to maximize benefits that are available to them. If you are fired before anyone knows what is going on, you won’t be able to take advantage of the benefits for which you qualify.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Hits Hard

An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease—an irreversible, degenerative disorder of the brain that affects problem-solving abilities, behavior and speech. It is typically associated with old age, and many of us have older family members who have been affected. As baby boomers age, the number of Alzheimer’s victims is expected to increase.

But approximately 200,000 of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are under age 65.
Read more . . .

Friday, April 15, 2016

What Happens When There are No Children to Provide Care to a Parent?

As we age, it is likely that many of us will need help for at least some period of time with life’s daily activities. (These include bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom.) And while we may not want to think much about being in that position some day, it would be a good idea to start thinking now about who will take care of us in our old age.

According to a 2011 Read more . . .

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Critical Retirement Decisions as Boomers Hit Age 70

Happy milestone birthday, Baby! 2016 is the year the first baby boomers will reach age 70. It is also the year for some critical decisions that will affect your retirement years. Here are some deadlines you won’t want to miss.

Sign up for Social Security. If you have delayed taking Social Security so you can receive the maximum benefit, now is the time. There is no advantage to waiting beyond age 70.

Start taking required minimum distributions from your tax-deferred plans. Uncle Sam says you must start taking distributions from your IRAs and other tax-deferred plans after you reach age 70 ½. If you miss this deadline or you don’t take out enough, there is a 50% penalty. (Exception: If you have money in an employer plan, you continue working beyond age 70 ½ and you own less than 5% of the company, you can delay your required beginning date on that employer’s plan until your actual retirement date.)

To determine the amount you must withdraw each year, divide the year-end value of your account by a life expectancy divisor found on a table provided by the IRS. (Most people will use the Uniform Lifetime Table, but if your spouse is more than 10 years younger than you, you will use a different one.) For example, the divisor for age 72 is 25.6. If your year-end account balance is $100,000, divide $100,000 by 25.6. The amount you are required to withdraw that year, then, is $3,906.25. You can withdraw more at any time, but this is the amount you must take out for that year’s required minimum distribution.

Minimum distributions are required for each tax-deferred account you own. Consolidating your accounts will make calculating and withdrawing distributions much easier.

Avoid taking two distributions in the same year. Generally, distributions must be taken by December 31 each year. However, you can delay your first required distribution until April 1 following the year in which you reach age 70 ½. But this would cause you to take two distributions in one year…April 1 for the previous year and December 31 for the current year…and that will increase your income, causing you to pay more in taxes. Remember, you have not paid income taxes on this money, so all withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.

Review your estate plan and plan for long term care. Now is the time to review your plan with your professional advisors. You may need to revise your will or trust, beneficiary designations, powers of attorney, and healthcare documents. Be sure to plan for the possibility of long term care—consider options for how, where and by whom care would be provided, and how to pay for the costs. If you want to conserve assets for your family, consider purchasing long term care insurance to offset some of the expenses. Finally, have that difficult but absolutely critical conversation with your family about your wishes and the plans you have put in place.

Eldercounsel, LLC

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

My Parents Aren’t As Healthy As I Thought

The holiday season is the time that families gather together, often from long distances. If you haven’t seen your parents in a while, you may notice they are aging more than you remembered. Here are some things to watch for the next time you visit.

Physical Appearance: Is your parent clean and presentable? Not keeping up with daily routines could be a result of physical, mental, or emotional decline. Do you notice any weight loss? Cooking may have become difficult. Also, some medications can affect taste and cause a lack of appetite. Pay attention to how your parent walks. Is balance or gait a problem? Unsteadiness can increase the risk of falling, which can result in serious injury.

Home Environment: If your parent has always maintained the yard, home repairs, a clean house and paid bills on time, a neglected yard or repairs, a cluttered or dirty house, or stack of unpaid bills could be clues that things are not quite right. Is your parent able to handle their medications? Should they be driving?

Memory Loss: Everyone loses their keys or forgets things occasionally. But having trouble with common words, getting lost in a familiar neighborhood, or not being able to follow directions could be indications of something serious. By the way, it’s not always dementia—a urinary tract infection that can be cured with antibiotics, other medical issue, or even a medication can often present with memory loss or confusion.

Emotional Well-Being: Watch for signs of depression, including withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep patterns, or loss of interest in hobbies.

What can you do?

  1. If you see things that concern you, talk to your parent. Have an honest conversation about what you are noticing and see if they are aware of any changes.
  2. Encourage regular medical check-ups and possibly a medical assessment. You may want to go with your parent and discuss results and suggestions with the doctor. 
  3. Address any safety issues and prioritize a to-do list. Simple things like adding non-slip pads under rugs or installing handicap bars in a bathroom can prevent falls. Medic alert systems are also valuable.
  4. Identify all available resources. (Also see #6 below.) Maybe you need to hire a housekeeper, someone to run errands, or a home health aide.
  5. If you have siblings, involve them if possible.
  6. Make a list of medications, doctors, and medical issues.
  7. Make sure your parent has all appropriate legal documents, including financial and healthcare powers of attorney and estate planning documents. An Elder Law attorney can be a valuable resource as he/she has walked this road before with other families, and can help with securing benefits from the VA and Medicaid, if applicable.
  8. Long-term care insurance can help preserve your parents’ finances and yours. But don’t wait too long; your parent could become uninsurable.

Above all, you want your parent to have as much independence and participation as possible. Be reassuring in what can be a scary time for many people. Remind them that you care about them and want them to be happy, healthy and safe—now and as far into the future as possible.


Eldercounsel, LLC

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