When a loved one receives a diagnosis of a degenerative disease of the brain, it is often difficult to know which direction to go. Witnessing someone close to you slowly lose the ability to perform daily tasks as usual can be heartbreaking. Even the most rudimentary functions, such as talking and breathing, may become a challenge for your diagnosed loved one. Whether it be ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you most likely are going to need some help along the way to best support your loved one and understand the disease process.

Financial Benefits

Being able to afford care for your loved one may be a paramount concern when the initial diagnosis is made; however, there are a multitude of options to consider. First, Medicare is the main source of funds for health coverage for those 65 or older, which is a viable option if your loved one does not have private insurance or a group employee plan. 

Another way to accrue money for care is potential employee benefits (paid sick leave, disability benefits, or flexible spending arrangements) for those who continue to work through early-stage symptoms of these degenerative diseases. If your loved one plans on completely retiring from work, even if they are not of age, their company may have a pension plan in place to pay benefits and provide financial stability in their time of need.

In addition, certain personal assets may hold significant value. Stocks, bonds, and saving accounts are all investments that can be sold for an influx of cash. At the same time, material items such as jewelry or real estate could have considerable value as well.

Finally, your diagnosed loved one may qualify for other government assistance through public programs such as veteran benefits, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) for people under the age of 65, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and tax deductions.

Care Options  

Most caregivers want to see their ill loved ones remain in the comfort of their own home, but the responsibility of care for a person with a neurodegenerative disease can become fairly burdensome. However, there are care options to consider when caring for your sick loved ones becomes too much to bear.

Because moving seniors from their own home to an assisted living facility can be a hard transition, one option to take is hiring an in-home care provider to support all the needs of the patient. As a specially qualified caregiver, these in-home assistants are different from typical home assistants; they know exactly how to care for patients with neurodegenerative disease. 

Although often looked at as a last resort, nursing homes for people with brain diseases have dramatically improved over the years. They may offer an individual treatment plan, around-the-clock support and supervision, a healthy diet, and activities to do with the other seniors. If you feel that your sick loved one is not getting the proper care at home, consider a nursing home to keep them on a structured schedule to maximize their quality of life.

Legal Documents

If you want the wishes of your elderly loved one to be carried out, you are going to need knowledge on a few legal documents: 

  • The power of attorney, whether for financial decisions or healthcare, is a document that gives an individual or agency the ability to make decisions for the ill patient. 
  • A living will is a document that states the wishes of the patient regarding certain medical situations while they are still alive, such as artificial life support.
  • A will, different from a living will, is a document stating who your executor (manages the estate) and beneficiaries (receive assets in the estate) are.   
  • A living trust is a document made during the patient’s lifetime where a trustee is chosen to manage the senior’s assets for the benefit of the eventual beneficiaries. 
  • A guardianship or conservatorship is when a person is appointed by the court to manage the patient’s assets and health care decisions. This typically occurs when a family cannot decide upon the care needed or the patient does not have any family.

For more information on these documents, visit our website at https://www.elderlawetn.com/services/estate-planning/.

A neurodegenerative diagnosis can cause a number of emotions and will require extra planning for the future which could feel overwhelming, but Elder Law of East Tennessee can help. Call us today at 865-951-2410 to schedule a consultation.