person in orange long sleeve shirt writing on white paper

How Attorneys Should Handle Alzheimer’s and Aging

Post Authored By: Hannah Werner

It seems that more and more celebrities are releasing their diagnoses of Alzheimer’s dementia. Famous singer Tony Bennett died of Alzheimer’s on July 21, but was able to perform and record music prior to his death due to a slow progression of his Alzheimer’s. Robin Williams died in 2014 and his autopsy showed signs of Dementia with Lewy Bodies, a type of dementia that often presents itself with hallucinations and dizziness. Even President Ronald Regan, 40th President of the United States, struggled with Alzheimer’s. During his presidency, Regan’s mental and physical capabilities dwindled and ultimately lead to his death in 2004. But what some people don’t understand is how prevalent Alzheimer’s disease in the United States really is. Almost everyone knows someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Often, when one thinks of Alzheimer’s, they think of memory loss and the terrible side effects that eventually lead to death. However, knowing the less common symptoms of the disease could help identify it faster.

According to Don’t Let Dementia Steal Everything: Avoid Mistakes, Save Money, and Take Control by Kerry Peck and Rick L. Law, some signs of diminished capacity include but are not limited to a change in behavior, poor hygiene, short-term memory loss, comprehension difficulties, a lack of mental flexibility, difficulty with calculation, emotional inappropriateness, and delusions or disorientation. It is important that those with Alzheimer’s have a solid estate plan in place as early into their diagnosis as possible. To ensure that they create a plan while as lucid as possible, anyone diagnosed with dementia should contact an attorney that specializes in the aging process. An experienced attorney will know how to best handle someone’s estate plan after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and any additional matters that come up later, such as guardianship or probate issues. to Don’t Let Dementia Steal Everything: Avoid Mistakes, Save Money, and Take Control by Kerry Peck and Rick L. Law sets forth that an elder law attorney can aid with:

  • General estate planning
  • Incapacity planning
  • Health care coordinating and financial planning
  • Quality of care

A good elder law attorney will execute estate planning documents for a client, but a great elder law attorney will create an estate plan that accounts for anything that could go wrong when someone ages. Attorneys should be able to walk clients through incapacity documents and what they set forth in their execution. For example, an attorney should discuss with clients who will oversee finances upon someone’s incapacity and who will make decisions regarding their health when they are not able to anymore. Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is scary. One’s mind likely runs through which loved one they will not recognize anymore and what will happen when they can’t make decisions for themselves anymore. A seasoned elder law attorney can aid their clients feel sure of their future at a time when they are likely unsure of everything.      

About the Author

In May of 2020, Hannah graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations and a B.A. in Psychology from Auburn University. After working at Ankin Law Office for almost a year, Hannah discovered an interest in law and joined the Chicago-Kent community. Hannah is currently a 2L representative for the Society of Women in Law, as well as a member of various organizations matching her passions, such as the First-Generation Law Student Association and the Chicago Kent Animal Legal Defense Fund. Following graduation, Hannah looks forward to a career in estate planning, real estate, or business law.

Leave a Reply