Dementia is a progressive illness that will cause a steady and irreversible cognitive decline. If your family member has recently been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to act now to create a long-term care plan. Early planning eliminates guesswork by letting your loved one express their wishes while they are still able to do so.
Evaluating Long-Term Care Options
An elder law attorney can help you understand the available options for long-term care and connect you with the appropriate community-based resources for home health care, assisted living, nursing home care, and/or hospice care. Since the cost of care is likely to be an important consideration, your attorney can advise you on Medicaid planning options that will let your loved one qualify for benefits while preserving assets for a spouse remaining home.
Your attorney can also provide assistance applying for other applicable benefits to pay for the cost of care. For example, veterans and widowed spouses of veterans who have never remarried may be eligible for VA Aid & Attendance benefits.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney documents give someone the authority to step in once your loved one is no longer able to make decisions on their own behalf. This person is often referred to as an agent or a proxy.
There are two types of power of attorney documents that will need to be included in your loved one’s care plan:
Power of attorney for finances.
This provides the authority to handle financial matters such as accepting payments, paying bills, filing taxes, and managing investments.
Medical power of attorney.
This provides the authority to make decisions regarding medical treatment in accordance with your loved one’s living will.
Power of attorney documents most often name a spouse or adult child to act as a person’s agent, but anyone over 18 is eligible to serve in this role. An alternate individual should be named in case the first choice is unable or unwilling to serve when needed.
When power of attorney documents are prepared while a person with dementia can still participate in the decision-making process, this avoids the need to have the court appoint a guardian.
Do You Need to Speak With an Elder Law Attorney?
If you need to speak with an experienced elder law attorney, please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.