by: Marco D. Chayet
Every 70 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. A report entitled 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures indicates that an estimated 5.1 million Americans over 65 have Alzheimer’s. The report goes on to indicate that about 2.7 million people over age 85 have the disease, but by the time the Baby Boomers reach 85 in 2031, an estimated 3.5 million boomers that age and older will have Alzheimer’s. In people over age 65, Alzheimer’s and dementia-related deaths are the fifth leading cause of death for people in the USA. And while deaths from heart disease, stroke and breast and prostate cancers dropped from 2000-2006, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased by 47.1%.
The statistics in this timely report are stunning. Individuals and their families who face a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s will quickly become overwhelmed with the legal, medical and financial requirements and realities of coping with this debilitating disease. The emotional effect of this disease is not just relegated to the client who is diagnosed but is often felt more deeply by surrounding family and friends.
The work of an elder law attorney encompasses all aspects of planning, counseling, educating and advocating for the senior or disabled client, either directly, or with their family, friends or trusted professionals. More specifically, elder law attorneys will assist you and your loved ones with many different issues related to estate planning, incapacity planning, disability planning, long-term care planning and public and private benefits. This includes the areas of guardianship, conservatorship, probate, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Veterans Benefits, Special Needs Trusts and estate and trust administration. An elder law attorney can also work with you if you are a fiduciary and need guidance and support in making decisions for a loved one when they cannot make a decision for themselves. You are a fiduciary if you are acting as an agent under medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, guardian, conservator, trustee, executor or personal representative.
With the average cost of nursing home care in Metro Denver reaching over $85,000 per year for Alzheimer patients, the time for you and your loved ones to consult with an elder law attorney to make sure your legal affairs are in order is now. Peace of mind can be achieved through proper elder law planning before a crisis presents itself to you or your loved one.
 Marco Chayet is an Elder Law attorney with the office of Chayet & Danzo, LLC, and the past Chair of the Elder Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. Marco can be reached at 303-355-8500 or Marco@ColoradoElderLaw.com and www.ColoradoElderLaw.com.
 As reported in USA Today March 24, 2009.