Memory Care Checklist: The Importance of Elder Law

Senior discussing options with caregiver

“A diagnosis of memory loss for a loved one typically creates significant changes and new challenges for the entire family,” says Amy Dukes, Memory Care Liaison at AHAVA Memory Care Residence, a Memory Care Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh, PA. “While the most obvious of these concerns involves the person’s care, both memory care experts and elder law specialists agree that it is also very important to address the legal and financial considerations that become increasingly important as the loved one’s memory loss progresses.”

Memory loss authorities at the Alzheimer’s Association® and the Mayo Clinic® concur that families should begin their financial and elder law planning activities as early in the process as possible. This provides the opportunity for the person with memory loss to participate in important decisions about their care, their assets and their future wishes while they are still able.

Oftentimes, these plans involve elder law considerations with the objective of assuring that the best interests of the loved one with memory loss and their family are preserved.

Elder Law: A Valuable Tool for Families Coping with Memory Loss

Legal experts explain that getting an early start on key elder law matters such as creating a power of attorney provides several advantages to family members and their loved ones. These include:

  • Enabling the person with dementia to be involved and express his or her wishes for future care and decisions while they are still able.
  • Allowing sufficient time to work through the complex legal and financial issues that are typically involved.
  • Eliminating guesswork for families and empowering the person with dementia to designate decision-makers on his or her behalf.

Elder law is focused on a very narrow segment of law. Therefore, it is important to seek out an attorney who specializes in elder law to assist you. As part of their specialty, elder law attorneys help families to:

  • Interpret and effectively utilize state laws.
  • Plan how the loved one’s wishes will be carried out.
  • Prepare guardianship documents.
  • Understand the family’s financial options.
  • Preserve financial assets while providing care for a loved one.

Elder law attorneys specialize in preparing specific legal documents pertaining to your loved one’s care and finances including:

  • Legal Power of Attorney that allows a person with Alzheimer’s (called the principal) to name another individual (called an attorney-in-fact or agent) - usually a trusted family member, domestic partner or friend - to make financial and other decisions when the person with dementia is no longer able.
  • Living Wills, also called an Advanced Directives, that details how your loved one would like to be cared for if they become terminally ill, incapacitated or cannot communicate their healthcare wishes. This is especially important for those receiving late-stage memory care.
  • Applications for Guardianship/Conservatorship if your loved one is approaching or has already lost the legal capacity to act in his or her best interests. While guardianship is a potential legal option for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease, it can be an expensive and stressful process. In most cases, with effective pre-planning, a simple Durable Power of Attorney is sufficient. 

Amy adds, “The additional challenges of financial concerns and legal matters for families coping with memory loss can sometimes seem overwhelming. However, with the assistance of a certified elder law specialist, you can address the need for a surrogate decision-maker and other legal matters to make the right decisions for everyone involved.”

You can locate an elder law attorney near you by contacting The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.

Discover Innovative Care and Exceptional Support for Families at Our Memory Care Center of Excellence

In addition to providing exceptional care for loved ones with memory loss, the AHAVA Memory Care Center of Excellence also serves as a valuable resource for families. Contact us if you have questions or need help in identifying memory care resources that can assist you in caring for your loved one at home.

We also invite you to learn more about important memory care topics by visiting our News section that offers at-home caregivers and family members a wealth of helpful information. In addition, check our monthly events calendar for free educational programs on topics of interest for family caregivers.

AHAVA Memory Care Residence . . . For the Love of Seniors

The Jewish Association on Aging’s new AHAVA Memory Care Residence is the only Memory Care Center of Excellence in Pennsylvania certified by The Hearthstone Institute. At AHAVA, we provide the proven approach of The Hearthstone Institute’s life-enriching I’m Still Here® programming within a warm and comfortable atmosphere. With the I’m Still Here® approach, the expertise of our caregivers, the support of our community, and a purposeful design for those with memory loss, AHAVA Memory Care Residence is Pittsburgh’s premier resource for Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

The choice to partner with The Hearthstone Institute came from the desire to provide truly unique and specialized memory care programming to our residents. As a recognized leader in the field of Alzheimer’s care and founder of The Hearthstone Institute, Dr. John Zeisel’s philosophy and approach deeply aligns with ours – to create nurturing environments where those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss can flourish. We have created an atmosphere of hope for our residents and their families – a place where everyone cares for, respects, and loves one another.

Built with purpose and love, and designed for living, AHAVA Memory Care Residence is more than just a place to be cared for – it’s a place to experience joy. Our personalized memory care program, delivered within a licensed assisted living community, provides the dignified assistance that’s needed, along with the lifestyle, services, and amenities that are desired.

Please contact us today or call us at 412.521.8295 for more information or to arrange a personal tour.