I was listening to National Public Radio this morning when I heard a story which was very interesting to me on both a personal as well as professional level. It was about the coming “silver tsunami”, referring to the retirement and aging of the Baby Boomer generation. The primary focus of the story was the impact on caregivers, but what really struck me was a statistic: according to a recent estimate, 7 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2025, and millions more will be afflicted by various other types of dementia.
This got me thinking about my clients. Two of my grandparents suffer from Alzheimer’s, and I’ve seen firsthand how this terrible disease can not only rob a person of their memory but also jeopardize their finances and the future of their family. With nursing home costs on the rise, many people will be forced to turn to Medicaid to pay for their care. Unless proper measures are taken, the result could be having to “spend down”, i.e. lose, most of your assets and property in order to qualify for benefits. What’s more, if you do not put in place a Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Directive for Health Care before you become incapacitated, then your family and loved ones may not be able to provide for your care without going to court and obtaining a guardianship — a costly and time-consuming proposition.
Nobody wants to get older or think about the possibility that they will get Alzheimer’s disease of dementia. For that reason, many of us neglect to properly plan for the future. However, a much worse outcome is the burden your family and loved ones could face and the tough choices they might have to make if you wait to do estate planning and long-term care planning until it’s too late.
Here is a link to the text and audio of National Public Radio’s story: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/29/417205451/can-technology-ease-the-burden-of-caring-for-people-with-dementia