I went to see the movie “Finding Your Feet” at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville yesterday. Why does a feature film get a mention in my blog, you wonder? Well, without giving too much away, the film was a wonderful celebration of life and chance for renewal – even later in life. Also, one of the characters suffers from Alzheimer's disease. (For more about the movie, check out the New York Times review: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/movies/finding-your-feet-review.html.)
Among the many sad aspects of Alzheimer's is the loss of one's capacity to make legal decisions. The potential loss of capacity – not only from Alzheimer's but a stroke or a freak accident at any age – is one of the reasons we recommend that almost everyone should prepare a durable power of attorney and advance health care directives. If someone loses capacity without having prepared either of these documents, it can be very difficult for loved ones to handle the person's affairs. Often family members end up having to go to court to get guardianship or conservatorship, a much more time-consuming, difficult, and expensive process than preparing power of attorney and advance health care directives ahead of time.
Another issue related to Alzheimer's disease is the high cost of care. In “Finding Your Feet,” part of the story was that the husband of the character with Alzheimer's disease had to sell their house to pay for her care. In Maine, Alzheimer's care can cost as much as $10,000 a month, and many people live with Alzheimer's for many years. Unfortunately, Medicare usually does not cover this type of care. Medicaid often does cover institutional care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease, but the eligibility rules can be difficult to figure out.
If you would like advice about either planning for incapacity or paying for long-term care or both, give us a call at (207) 377-6966.