Being the son or daughter of someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be emotionally and financially devastating. As your parent’s health and functioning decline, you can be overwhelmed with managing the daily challenge of keeping them safe while enduring difficult, and often hostile behaviors. Additionally, depending on your budget, finding affordable, quality care for them may not be easy. However, by taking steps before your parent’s condition worsens, you can help ensure he or she has what they need today, and in the future. Here are some considerations regarding planning when your parent has Alzheimer’s.
Get Started Sooner Rather than Later
When you first learn your mother or father is diagnosed, it can be difficult to process and accept. Especially if they have been living independently and appeared to be functioning reasonably well. This may have occurred because your other parent was taking care of them and not mentioning symptoms to you. It could also be that he or she has received an early-stage diagnosis and is not highly symptomatic yet.
When your parent is presenting well and exhibiting minor symptoms of Alzheimer’s, it may seem like you have time to plan. Due to the degenerative nature of the disease, it is continuously at work. The sooner you can educate yourself, learn about community resources, research caregiving, and ways to protect your parent and their assets, the better. Fortunately, California residents can turn to support organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association to find local resources and to start learning more about the condition.
Long-Term Care and Medi-Cal Planning
Due to its progressive nature, someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease is eventually going to require more advanced care. Without long-term care insurance, the individual, or his or her family, is going to have to pay several thousands of dollars per month for these services. In many cases, a person in this situation will need to rely on Medi-Cal, California Medicaid, to pay for their long-term care. However, the Medi-Cal program is income-sensitive, and if the person has too much money or property, they may not qualify. Further, there is a “look-back provision” that allows Medi-Cal to examine any transaction where an applicant sold an asset or gave property or money away for 30 months before they applied. If the transfer was impermissible, the applicant might be disqualified for a certain amount of time from the program.
The good news is that there are ways to plan that will allow your parent to protect assets and still qualify for Medi-Cal. However, you and your parent need to consult with a qualified Medi-Cal planning attorney to discuss your options and make the right preparations in advance.
Advanced Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney
In California, your Advanced Health Care Directive allows you to designate someone else to step in and make medical decisions on your behalf according to your instructions. This document also ensures that your medical providers have as much direction from you as possible.
A Power of Attorney for Finance is a legal document that gives another person the authority to manage financial decisions and to safeguard someone else’s interests if they become incapacitated. An individual in this role may pay bills, collect money owed to the person, and even make investment decisions. The extent of the person’s power is limited to the language in the power of attorney device.
If your parent still has the legal capacity to execute these documents, have them do so as soon as possible. That way, if his or her symptoms advance quickly, someone they have named will be legally allowed to step in right away to help manage their health and financial issues. If the situation is more advanced, you should consult with counsel about seeking a legal conservatorship.
At the Law Office of Alice Salvo, we are experienced California elder law attorneys with the knowledge and expertise you need to plan for your parent’s future and care. Schedule a consultation today, and let’s start your estate planning solution.