This is the first of three blogs (today, Monday and Tuesday) on this important topic. I hope you find it helpful.
First, we will describe what dementia is and what it isn’t. Then we will turn our focus to its costs to the individual, the family and our nation. As an Elder Law attorney, I am specially situated to help find solutions to many of the problems this condition brings with it. While we can’t stop dementia, we can help protect those in its clutches while the medical world continues to seek prevention, treatment and reversal of the condition.
The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as, “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia.”
Dementia is not actually a specified disease. It describes, instead, a general decline in memory or other thinking skills and is identified through a variety of symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. In order to be characterized as dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired: visual perception; reasoning and judgment; memory; communication and language; or ability to focus and pay attention. Dementia is not a normal part of aging as the terms “senility" or "senile dementia” infer. If a loved one is having trouble with any two or more of these mental functions, it’s a good idea to get it checked by a doctor. Dementia is progressive and typically takes over the mental functions over time. In this way, it provides the individual and the family with time to plan for its disastrous affects.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.