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    Category Archives: Alzheimer’s

    Walking and Alzheimer’s – Check Your Gait

    The way people walk appears to speak volumes about the way they think, so much so that changes in an older person’s gait appear to be an early indicator of cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease.

    Cognitive impairments, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, are difficult to diagnose, let alone manage. Still, these impairments are a reality for millions of Americans and their loved ones, not to mention many more of us in the future. Consequently, we must remain informed and vigilant.

    Cognitive disease symptoms steadily destroy our ability to plan for the disease itself. This troubling fact carries over to the legal issues of “mental capacity” when it comes time to plan your estate. So, what are the outward warning signs of present or future issues?

    Some new studies have come to light about walking and dementia. The New York Times recently addressed this connection in an article titled “Footprints to Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Are Seen in Gait.” According to recent findings, a person’s gait – the way he or she walks – can be an early indicator of oncoming impairment for some. It seems the more difficulty a person has walking, the more difficult it is to process certain information.

    In fact, the results of testing were even more dramatic when persons where required to engage in various mental exercises while walking. Although neither conclusive nor confirmed, there seems to be a link between exercise and cognitive impairments.

    Contact Meier Law Firm to discuss how we can help you with your estate planning.

    Reference: The New York Times (July 16, 2012) “Footprints to Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Are Seen in Gait

    A special thank you from Meier Law Firm to a Community committed to preserving life, dignity, and independence

    One of the best parts of my job as an estate planning attorney at Meier Law Firm is getting unique glimpses into other people’s lives, hopes, and legacies.

    Today, I had the special experience of touring Silverado Senior Living’s Newport Mesa Community, a service dedicated to caring for and loving people affected by dementia. They call it a community, and not a facility, because they understand that everyone deserves to be part of a community no matter what challenges they are facing. They also call their patients “residents” so they and their family members know that they are more than their disorder, they are a person who still has a very special purpose.

    Because Silverado lines their hallways with beautiful display cases honoring each resident’s life, I saw how many residents had doctorates, medals, crosses, awards, and special family photos, showcasing the beautiful life they experienced before their dementia. But more importantly, I saw that dementia was not the end of their story or journey. I think the thing that touched me most was seeing a beautiful garden outside, and learning that one of the residents spends his time planting and maintaining all of the plants and flowers for others to enjoy. Despite battling dementia, he is still making the world around him a better place. I know I was definitely touched by his contribution.

    Thank you Silverado for sharing your community with me and showing me that no challenge can hold one back from living their life with purpose, and making the world around them a better place.  For more information on my friends at Silverado and how we can help those affected by dementia, visit silveradosenior.com.

    Laura K. Meier

    Alzheimer’s Miracle Cure on the Horizon?

    In today’s world, planning for old age can be a challenge- both financially and legally. Additionally, supporting an elderly loved one who is almost certain to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s becomes even more troubling.

    Are you or someone you love at risk for Alzheimer’s in the future? What if the disease could be “cured” before it struck? There may be hope on the horizon, as reported in a New York Times article titled, “New Drug Trial Seeks to Stop Alzheimer’s Before It Starts.”

    While nearly two years away from having even preliminary data, researchers have isolated the genetic family bearing the Alzheimer’s blueprint and are working on a new experimental drug that could cure the problem before it strikes millions bearing the offending gene. These breakthroughs take time.

    The reality is that we don't know what unique challenges we will face in old age.  That's why it is necessary to make financial and legal plans so we're prepared no matter what we face. Accordingly, long-term care financing (e.g., long-term care insurance and/or elder law planning) ought to be considered, along with implementing (or refreshing) your most fundamental legal instruments (e.g., powers of attorney and advance health directives).

    As always, consult competent financial and legal counsel before proceeding. This is not a DIY (do-it-yourself) exercise. Too much is at stake.

    Contact Meier Law firm today for your planning needs.

    Reference: The New York Times (May 15, 2012) “New Drug Trial Seeks to Stop Alzheimer’s Before It Starts

    Elder Law

    Increasingly, my friends and I are starting to see the same thing: elderly parents and grandparents who are grappling with memory loss and finding it difficult to manage their finances. And most of us, I'm learning, are making the same mistake: we're waiting too long to act.

    Baby Boomers are discovering that one of life’s most difficult passages is when the child becomes the caretaker for his or her parents. Tough subjects and hard choices can leave us paralyzed when we need to act quickly.

    Communication, early and often, is critical.

    The primary problem with understanding and caring for elderly loved ones lies in recognizing a deteriorating mental condition. Alzheimer’s, for one, affects one in eight persons over the age of 65. Simple dementia, on the other hand, is difficult to define, but far more Americans within that age group suffer from it.

    If your elderly loved ones may be susceptible to Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are certain warning signs to recognize and steps to take. While there is no consensus on exactly how to approach the problem, a recent SmartMoney article titled "Talking to Mom About Alzheimer’s and Her Money" provides some practical advice on understanding and discussing the problem.

    Simply put, there are red flags that cannot be ignored. It is necessary to address this subject with your elderly loved one and begin to take steps to provide for their interests and care. At a minimum, make sure fundamental legal documents are signed while your loved one is mentally capable of understanding. Such documents should include Advance Health Directives, a Living Will, a Financial Durable Power of Attorney and a Last Will.

    Here’s the bottom line: if you and your loved one wait too late to have “the conversation” and take action, then the result may be unnecessary legal fees, courts and costs.

    Reference: SmartMoney (May 7, 2012) Talking to Mom About Alzheimer's and Her Money

    Planning Today For Dementia In Your Tomorrow

    Advancements in medical science and care may enable us to live fuller, longer lives. The flip side is that more of us, like Mike Wallace, are likely to suffer from a diminished mental state–a harsh reality that’s difficult to accept.

    It has been an unfortunate past few weeks for celebrity deaths. Recently both Dick Clark and Mike Wallace passed away. It is in the life and death of Mike Wallace, however, that there is a lesson to learn for all those planning for old age and, perhaps more so, for those planning for their estates.

    The estate planning lesson of Mike Wallace’s life was the subject of a recent article in Forbes by Deborah Jacobs. Titled “Mike Wallace Death Underlines Need To Prepare Financially For Risk Of Dementia,” the article is a wakeup call for making proper estate plans while you are physically and mentally able.

    Apparently, Wallace suffered from dementia late in life. In fact, developing that condition will be an increasingly prevalent fact of life for baby boomers. According to recent projections, one in eight baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s after they turn 65.

    The problem, as pointed out in the Forbes article, is that once dementia or Alzheimer’s strikes, it is too late to make plans. Simply put, you are no longer, “of sound body and mind” as per the classic Last Will and Testament language. Furthermore, even if you are in control “most of the time,” any legal document or change you may make to a legal document will become suspect or outright inadmissible. This is a fact of life and a fact of law.

    Just as old age is not the time to be planning your retirement finances, it is not the best time to make your estate plans either. The lesson learned is to engage appropriate financial and legal counsel sooner rather than later.

    Reference: Forbes (April 8, 2012) “Mike Wallace Death Underlines Need To Prepare Financially For Risk Of Dementia




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