Hillary Clinton announces plan to fight Alzheimer's

In December, Hillary Clinton became the first presidential candidate to make fighting Alzheimer's Disease a campaign issue. On December 22nd, she announced a plan to invest $2 billion per year until 2025 toward a cure to Alzheimer's. Clinton stated that 10 years was the minimum amount of time prominent researchers predict it will take to make significant progress. 

Alzheimer’s research received $588 million from federal funding in 2014, which according to Clinton is less than 1% of the yearly cost of the disease. While 2016's budget allocated an additional $350 million more toward the disease, Hillary argues this is not enough. To raise funds, she says she will close tax loopholes, although she does not say which ones. Hillary and Bill have personally taken full advantage of Estate Tax loopholes, so it will be interesting to see if she gets rid of those.

While the cost of research may seem high, Clinton hopes to offset the growing cost of caring for individuals with Alzheimer's or other kinds of dementia - much of which is borne by medicare. Treatments for Alzheimer's would also benefit family members and caregivers, who often find themselves completely unprepared to deal with the emotional and financial burden of caring for someone with severe dementia

According to The Alzheimer's Association, studies estimate that nearly 15 million people aged 65 and older will have Alzheimer's disease by 2050. Clinton notes that each of those individuals would need the support of caregivers and family. Clinton stated:

"We owe it to the millions of families who stay up at night worrying about their loved ones afflicted by this terrible disease and facing the hard reality of the long goodbye to make research investments that will prevent, effectively treat and make a cure possible by 2025," Clinton said. "The best scientific minds tell us we have a real chance to make groundbreaking progress on curing the disease and relieving the pain so many families feel every day."

Clinton had previously come out as an advocate for comprehensive Alzheimer's care planning services. When one receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or other form of dementia, the importance of planning cannot be overstated. There are two parts to care planning: the medical side and the financial side. In most cases, the two overlap. Clinton says she will focus on ensuring comprehensive care-planning sessions are covered by Medicare, along with promoting coordinated care among physicians. The financial part is something you'll want to discuss with an Elder Law attorney, as Medicare and Medi-Cal will often pay for long term care. The process of qualifying for Medi Cal is extremely complex however, and should be facilitated by an experienced California attorney who specializes in Medi Cal for long term care.

Clinton also wants to reauthorize the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program, which helps locate patients who may be prone to wandering. Needless to say, those Alzheimer's patients who are prone to wander may be in need of a more comprehensive care facility, which can often be paid for by Medi-Cal. National statistics state that 6/10 sufferers will wander at some point in a state of disorientation. The risks posed by wandering are life threatening, and this is perhaps the most critical reason that care for individuals with dementia must be planned for in advance. 

Clinton also wants to increase awareness among seniors about Medicare (Medi Cal) benefits available to them. In my personal practice, I help families rearrange assets to qualify for Medi Cal, as well as advise them on how to avoid the state from seizing their assets when the individual on Medi Cal passes away. This is an excellent example of a benefit offered to Californians that is little known about. 

While I can't personally speak to the realities of finding a cure for dementia by 2025, I appreciate Clinton's efforts to bring more attention to a disease that continues to devastate the lives of so many who do not have the resources and tools to cope with it. 

If you have questions about Medi-Cal or other Elder law issues, contact my law office in Walnut Creek for your free consultation. 925-322-1763


Legal Planning for Alzheimer's or Dementia

Having a parent, grandparent, or close friend that is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia can seem overwhelming. However, if you begin planning for their future early, many of the difficulties associated with the disease can be avoided. In addition, the sooner planning begins, the more the person affected can participate.

The Importance of Legal Planning

Early legal and financial planning for your loved one helps to keep costs (and stress) at a minimum going forward. It also allows the person with dementia to express their own wishes for future care, as well as be involved in choosing decision makers on their behalf. Legal and financial issues for long-term care can also be addressed. An experienced Elder Law attorney can also help the person with dementia qualify for MediCal, which can save thousands and thousands of dollars in long term care costs. In the Elder Law field, this is known as MediCal planning.

Legal Issues to Address:

  • Planning for Long-term care and health care
  • Planning for finances and property
  • Designating someone to make decisions for the person with dementia

Before speaking with an Elder Law attorney, determine if the person with dementia has the legal capacity to sign documents. If there is any question as to whether or not they can, consult with a medical doctor. A doctor can help determine their capacity, and provide written proof of their mental capacity. Many elder law attorneys will require such a document before having them sign anything.

In addition, locate any living wills, powers of attorney, or trust documents that were signed prior to the diagnosis. If you cannot find a record of these documents, or none were completed, consult with your attorney on the next steps. It is possible that an estate plan can be made, but in some cases a Conservatorship may be necessary first.

What to discuss in your first Appointment:

  • Who will make health care decisions for the person with dementia?
  • Who will manage the property and finances of the person with dementia?
  • Who will manage their personal care?
  • How will long-term care be paid for? Can MediCal, Veteran’s benefits, or long-term care  insurance policies help?

What to Bring to your Elder Law Attorney:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Real Estate deed copies
  • Recent Income Tax copies
  • Estate Planning Documents (trusts, wills, power of attorney)
  • Health Care Facility documents (retirement home, nursing home, if applicable)
  • Health Insurance Policy Information
  • List of itemized assets
  • Names and addresses of family, caregivers, and professionals involved (for example, beneficiaries if there is a will or trust)

3 Tips for Success:

1. Ensure that your loved one’s doctors and caregivers have a    copy of their power of attorney

2. Have your loved one name a successor agent on the      power of attorney

3. Consider hiring a neutral third party to act as power of    attorney, trustee, or executor.

Most Elder Law attorneys will offer a free consultation to answer any questions you might have. It is important to hire an attorney who works in the county your loved one resides in. I frequently work with families on Conservatorship and Trust matters in Contra Costa County and Alameda County. To set up your initial consultation, call 925-322-1763. I'll be happy to speak with you.