The law is not something we easily associate with disease , but in the case of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, it is necessary to have legislative support to help in coping with the long-term effects of such conditions. Currently, about 5 million people in the US are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and it is an ultimately fatal disease with no immediate prospects of improvement. It is the 6th leading cause of death, with Illinois in particular reporting 3,000 deaths in 2010.
Elder law focused on the management of Alzheimer’s disease is state-based, but in the 40 or so states that do have such laws, the goal is more or less the same: to make the state a dementia capable one. It has been widely recognized that there is a need for intervention in the management of the disease, which in Illinois is expected to increase by 14% by the year 2025. The Illinois Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Act (410 ILCS 405) details the need for awareness and long-term care of sufferers through a coordinated public health system.
It is undeniable however that Illinois cannot hope to provide the best care for more than 200,000 of its citizens with the disease without private help. Those who do not have the financial means to manage the problem are the priority for public assistance; those who do have the capacity to plan for the eventuality are encouraged to make their arrangements in advance of the onset.
Alzheimer’s disease planning makes just as much sense as taking out car insurance; you do everything you can to avoid it, but in the eventuality of failure, you are financially covered. But Alzheimer’s disease planning is not as simple as taking out car insurance; there are many things to take into consideration, not the least of which are legal dispositions.
According to the website of elder law firm Peck Ritchey, LLC, Alzheimer’s disease planning is highly recommended for those with a history of the disease, such as relatives who already have or had the disease. Such plans would address legal, financial and health care issues, estate planning, wills, acceptable treatment options, treatment of minors, and so on. Because Alzheimer’s disease affects cognition, this planning is designed to document the wishes of the patient before making competent decisions is no longer possible.
If you believe that you are predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, you should make your plans to address this possibility. Contact an elder law attorney in your state to help you do this in proper legal and binding fashion.