Tag Archives: alzheimer’s disease

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Assistance | Illinois Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney

What happens if you or your loved one is diagnosed with early-onset dementia? This typically means that the patient was diagnosed before the age of 65. Unfortunately, there are not very many resources for those who have early-onset dementia, but there are a few things that a caregiver can do:

  1. Look for a senior day center. The staff will be well trained in dementia care and they’ll know the right ways to interact with your loved one;
  2. Have your early-onset diagnosed loved one volunteer in a senior day center like the type I mentioned above. This will ensure that they are in a safe environment while also giving them a sense of confidence; and
  3. Talk to local nursing facilities.  Some facilities have day care or memory units that may fit your loved one’s needs.

Resources like these have become more and more common in recent years. Even if you don’t have a senior day center in your area, don’t worry. There is plenty you can do.

-Anthony B. Ferraro

Choosing the Right Nursing Home | Chicagoland Elder Care Attorney

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one may be one of the most daunting things we have to do in life.  But, when a loved one is in a condition that requires them to be in a nursing home, as a caregiver or agent under power of attorney, it is your job to choose the place that is best for them.  You want them to get the proper medical attention while still feeling like they’re at home.  Your worst case scenario would be for them to feel neglected or to be treated poorly.

There are ways to ensure that this does not happen.

For starters, when beginning the nursing home selection process I recommend that you visit https://abferrarolaw.com/senior-resource-kits/alzheimers-resource-kit/.  There you will find the guide, “How to Choose the Right Nursing Home and Ensure Your Loved One Gets Great Care,” which includes:

1)      A Nursing Home Evaluation Form, which gives you a lot of insight pertaining to issues that people tend to overlook when choosing a nursing home;

2)      3 steps to make the nursing home transition a smooth one; and

3)      1 huge secret on how to connect with nursing home staffers so that your loved one gets the best treatment.

After narrowing down the nursing home selections, the next best thing to do is to contact someone on the nursing home staff, such as the social worker, to voice your concerns and engage in further questioning on your nursing home of choice.  After contacting staff, they may offer to give you a tour of their facility to give you an even more in depth insight on what may soon be your loved one’s new home.

All in all, throughout the whole process, make sure to involve your loved one. Make sure that they know that the journey they are about to embark on is not a scary one, but an exciting one.

-Anthony B. Ferraro

The Cost of Alzheimer’s Care is Rising | Chicago Estate Planning & Eldercare Attorney-CPA Anthony B. Ferraro

Yes, the cost to care for Alzheimer’s patients is rising and the rapid cost increases show no sign of stopping.  And unfortunately, that is not the only figure rising; the percentage of seniors with Alzheimer’s is also steadily increasing.  Statistics show that between 2010 and 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to jump from 5.5 million to 14 million.

So, how do we pay for adequate Alzheimer’s care?

In reality, many people do not understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.  Medicare simply does not pay for long-term care.  Medicare actually only cares about your loved one if they are going to get better, i.e. if they suffer from a stroke or a heart attack, and can recover with rehab.  And as we know, Alzheimer’s disease does not fall into that category; so if your loved one has Alzheimer’s, your loved one will have to rely on Medicaid if they do not have enough money to pay privately for care.

Medicaid expenses for people with Alzheimer’s are very high due to the uninsured cost of long-term care.  Approximately half of Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s disease also qualify for Medicaid, because they exhausted their own financial resources to pay for all of their long-term care.  And when someone is relying on Medicaid, often times they can only keep $2,000 in savings and $30 per month. At least that’s what the federal and state governments want you to believe. There are numerous exceptions to this general rule however. And, there are certainly ways to protect you and your loved ones’ well being  assets so that you can work around this.

Stay tuned for more.

-Anthony B. Ferraro

What If My Loved One Is a Flight Risk or Wanders Away? | Chicago Estate & Elder Law Attorney-CPA, Anthony B. Ferraro

Wandering is one of the most dangerous and feared side effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia’s.  Usually, the main reason for someone wandering is they are trying to find some place that is familiar to them.  A problem with wandering is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not realize they are doing dangerous acts, such as walking into traffic.

The good news is that wandering can be prevented.  The website below includes some resources you may find helpful for protecting your loved one from the dangers of wandering.

http://www.alzheimershope.com/symptoms_strategies/wandering.php

Even though it is completely understandable to be scared and agitated when a loved one wanders away, it is very important to refrain from confronting them and badgering them.

When a loved one wanders away a frantic confrontation will only make things worse.

While it is certainly easy to say that one should not show fear or anger when a loved one wanders, putting that into practice is another matter. One of the most important things to keep in mind is not to lecture your loved one about wandering, in order to prevent an outburst.

Alzheimer’s not only affects the memory, but may control that part of the brain which controls our behavior. Don’t  increase the fright of your loved one, or the chance of an outburst, by lecturing them.

When it comes to wandering, simply remember to try to remain calm.

-Anthony B. Ferraro

Should Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s Still be Driving? | Illinois Estate Planning & Eldercare Attorney-CPA Anthony B. Ferraro

One of the dilemmas a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s faces is whether or not they should continue to let their loved one drive.  No longer allowing your loved one to drive can lead your loved one to a feeling of defeat and taking away their keys can mean the loss of your loved one’s independence; however,  you must balance that loss with the safety of others on the road.

An issue that many caregivers face surrounding the driving issue is their loved one’s insistence that there is no reason why they can no longer operate a vehicle.  Even if you get the doctor to insist to the patient that they should no longer drive, due to the memory loss, the patient may completely forget what the doctor told them.  So, you will find yourself in a seemingly never ending cycle of your loved one insisting on driving and you telling them no.

In this case, the best thing to do is change the topic of conversation when the driving topic is brought up.  Diverting to a lighter topic of conversation by saying something like, “What do you want for dinner tonight?” may feel odd at first, like you’re ignoring your loved one, but the truth is, switching to a lighter topic of conversation can be a great stress reliever for both you and your loved one, even if it is only for a brief moment.

Changing to a lighter topic should not take away from the overall seriousness of the driving issue, but for the time being, it provides some relief and you both can move forward.

It is important to realize that driving is one of the most challenging issues surrounding Alzheimer’s today.  Helpful answers to this issue can come from the Alzheimer’s resource center at abferrarolaw.com/senior-resource-kits/alzheimers-resource-kit/.

-Anthony B. Ferraro

Alzheimer’s Caregivers’ Advice | Illinois Estate Planning & Eldercare Attorney-CPA Anthony B. Ferraro

Assuming the role of a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is very hard. It can be a struggle, both physically and mentally.  As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you are going to be approaching challenges that are both new and frightening.

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease and it can affect your loved one in many different ways.  Someone with Alzheimer’s may struggle doing simple tasks such as getting dressed or eating.  The typical Alzheimer’s patient will also face confusion and, therefore, you will receive repetitive questions and see odd behavior.

In a situation like this, it is normal to feel trapped.  However, I am here to assure you that there are ways to make you and your loved one’s journey through Alzheimer’s easier.

First off, I suggest that you abferrarolaw.com/senior-resource-kits/alzheimers-resource-kit/.  There you will find many tools on how to cope through the Alzheimer’s journey, including the recording called, “Caring for and Communicating with the Alzheimer’s Patient.”

Other helpful information covered on the above website includes paying for the cost of Alzheimer’s care, discovering hidden VA benefits, and how to approach crucial legal documents.

-Anthony B. Ferraro

Coping with Alzheimer’s | Chicago Estate Planning & Eldercare Attorney-CPA Anthony B. Ferraro

Alzheimer’s has been termed “The Long Goodbye” due to its devastating effects that last for many years.  When our loved ones have Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t only affects them, it affects us.

However, there is still hope: hope in learning how to cope with Alzheimer’s.  As of today, there is no official cure for the disease, but by taking the simple steps many Alzheimer’s caregivers are using to cope, we can regain some peace of mind.

By visiting the website below, you will gain access to the Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.  This is a helpful tool that will assist you in providing stress-free care for both you and your loved one, as well as ways to pay for Alzheimer’s care without going broke.

abferrarolaw.com/senior-resource-kits/alzheimers-resource-kit/

I also encourage you to visit www.AlzheimersHope.com, which is an internet community that will give you the opportunity to connect with Alzheimer’s caregivers from around the world.

You are not alone in your journey through Alzheimer’s, and the above websites will assure you that there are many others experiencing the same thing as you.

If you have any other questions about Alzheimer’s or any other legal-related issues, please call my office at (847) 292-1220.

-Anthony B. Ferraro

Attorney-CPA

How can we encourage a more collaborative spirit, rather than “them vs. us,” when it comes to my mother’s nursing home staff? ? | Chicago Long-Term Care Planning Attorney Anthony B. Ferraro

First of all, for family members: When you first admit a loved one to a nursing home, you should get to know the staff. Let them know that you care about their well being (in addition to your loved one’s) and that you would like an open relationship so you all can discuss issues concerning your mother’s care.

Inform them about pertinent information concerning her and her life — what she likes, dislikes, any habits she might have, typical moods, and what seems to work when approach her in different situations. The more her caregivers know, the better they can care for her.

Compliment staff members when you learn about them doing something you like. Be involved at the facility as much as possible. Attend social events and family council meetings if you can.

One good example of relationships being built very well involves a man who took a picture of his wife and the staff on her unit. He had an 8-by-10-inch shot of it made and wrote the name of each caregiver underneath it. When placed on his wife’s closet door, it served as an aid to helping her recognize the people taking care of her.

It also made the staff members feel very included. It made them feel important and let them know that the family really cared about them. This gesture built a lot of good will and enhanced his wife’s care.

To the staff: Don’t be intimidated by residents and/or their families. You are the frontline worker, an honorable position. Without you, there would be no care for their loved one. That is a compliment of the highest order.

Show interest not only in the resident, but also his or her family. Introduce yourself and tell them a little bit about your background, your interests, how long you have been a caregiver and why you are in that line of work.

When family members enter the unit, greet them cheerfully and give them information about their loved one, whether the news is good, bad or indifferent. What many caregivers don’t think to do is call a resident’s family if something good happens during the day. These are blessings that can be few and far between for family members, and they’ll go a long way.

Unfortunately, there can be stigmas about nursing homes and their caregivers. For the most part, these workers are intent on doing a good job and truly care about what they do and who is in their charge. Everyone needs to work together to overcome negative stereotypes so residents will have positive experiences in their new home.

My father keeps asking to go home. What do we tell him? ? | Chicago, Illinois Elder Law Attorney Anthony B. Ferraro

When your father or any loved one starts to ask about home, someone could drive them past a previous home, even from childhood. Often, he will not recognize the old house because a house and a home are two different things. That’s why it is best to make him feel safe and secure, regardless of wherever he is.

To most people, “home” is a place where we feel loved and accepted — and safe. So the best way to answer your question is to think about the word “home” and what it signifies. Depending on where he is with memory loss, your father might be conjuring thoughts of a childhood home with his parents and siblings. Or the home where he was first married, the kids were young or any time before, after or in between

He might be living in the same home he’s been in for 20 or 30 years and still ask to go home.

Due to the nature of Alzheimer’s, your dad is likely feeling insecure, fearful, even unlovable. Please pay close attention to this next point: It is not your fault. He is dwindling a bit, day-by-day, and he is frightened. Fear can drive many emotions, not the least of which are insecurity, anxiety, anger and low self-esteem. Your father needs to feel safe. If he doesn’t carry good feelings about himself, he probably doesn’t feel he can be loved by anyone.

Remember that the most important thing to realize is you need to constantly validate his feelings. Instead of telling him he is home, tell him simply that he is in a safe place and that he is loved very much. You can tell him, for example, “Dad, you’ll be staying with me and Anthony for a while. We’re happy you’re here and we love you.”

Reminiscing about his childhood and looking back at his life and life accomplishments also should make him feel good about himself and decrease negative feelings.

Because Alzheimer’s patients typically have short-term memory loss, he will nonetheless continue to ask about “home.” Repeat over and over that he is in a safe place and loved very much. Giving hugs throughout the day will truly say much more than words. A hug produces feelings of love, acceptance and security — three big concepts that continually need addressing.  For more information regarding how to treat a loved one with Alzheimer’s, click here.

My father has late-stages Alzheimer’s and gets food pocketed in his throat, causing aspiration and food back-up. Does he need to get a feeding tube? | Chicago Elder Law Attorney Anthony B. Ferraro

This can be a tricky subject. There is a lot of negative information circulated about feeding tubes, but they also can serve a legitimate, helpful purpose. First off, if your father has an advance directive, review its contents for guidance about his wishes regarding a feeding tube.

Be sure to speak at length with his doctor about this issue. Sometimes other interventions are possible, such as speech therapy. Speech pathologists and therapists can introduce special swallowing techniques. However, the patient must be aware enough to understand instructions and carry them out.

Discuss the different kinds of feeding tubes with your loved one’s doctor. There are numerous types and each should be explored. Some of them require more invasive procedures than others. Less invasive means less stress for your father. The doctor also should be able to explain the risks of using a feeding tube — and what the risks are if one isn’t used.

Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion about feeding tubes. They are frequently an uncomfortable topic. Even if you have used a doctor for many years and trust him or her, it never hurts to get a second opinion. You need to be at peace when you make a decision about a feeding tube.