My desire to work helping the elderly in a legal capacity began a long time ago.
In effect, the seeds for my career were planted years ago when the phone rang, and, upon answering I heard the panic-stricken voice of my friend on the line. She was terrified that she was going to lose her home because of the devastating cost of her husband’s nursing home care. Another dear friend sought my advice when she discovered that her husband had early onset Alzheimer’s.
In The Beginning
I’ll never forget how my journey began, especially during this month that is dedicated to Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness. This is a time that I am reminded once again of how quickly and easily families can be devastated by this and other diseases if they have no plan in place and no one to turn to for guidance. I continually have prospective clients come to my offices whose elderly, and sometimes not so elderly parents are in the grips of late stage Alzheimer’s. These are circumstances where there has been no communication between parents and their adult children about the future. The what if questions were never asked. What if something were to happen? What if I were to suddenly become ill and not be able to make decisions anymore? What if I were to get into an accident, be suddenly killed or permanently disabled, who would care for me? Parents have been so busy taking care of their children that their own future needs are all too often not even considered. Most people tend to forget about their own long-term health care needs in favor of more immediate needs and desires.
Typical Family Life
The adult children, who have children and busy lives of their own, are typically caught up and have not been able to turn their attention fully to their parents. So signs of dementia may go unnoticed during short visits or phone calls. So this disease tends to sneak up on families. And when elderly parents can no longer make important legal decisions due to mental decline, the adult children are suddenly thrown into a position of having to figure things out. It can be very disconcerting and chaotic. But there are solutions.
The Sad Truth
According to an Alzheimer’s resource, alz.org, “Alzheimer’s disease is thought to begin 20 years or more before symptoms arise, with small changes in the brain that are unnoticeable to the person affected. Only after years of brain changes do individuals experience noticeable symptoms, such as memory loss and language problems.”
No one I know is on the lookout for these kinds of symptoms. Most of us move through life busily attending to things until we are stopped in our tracks by accidents or illness. A family member or friend is diagnosed, then we all remember seeing the signs which were not recognized as the beginning of an illness but only thought to be absent mindedness.
Ask Questions About Future Care Before It’s Too Late
If there is a take-away from all of this, it would be that families start taking an active role in asking their parents about the future. Find out if they have an estate and asset protection plan in place that includes long-term care. These topics are becoming easier to bring up as we humans are living longer and more of us are seeing family members and friends not knowing what to do when they are caught off-guard. And, please, seek the services of a reputable Elder Care Attorney sooner rather than later.