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Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive and fatal brain disease.  Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.”[1] There are now more than five million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Every 72 seconds, someone develops this disease. [2] The number of people surviving into their 80s and 90s is growing due to changes in demographics as well as advances in medicine; therefore, the number of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease will grow as a portion of this population.

“Direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, including Medicare and Medicaid costs and the indirect cost to business of employees who are caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s, amount to more than $148 billion annually.”[3] Much of the cost of care is absorbed by the Alzheimer’s patient and his or her family out of their own pockets.

Caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease is not only expensive, but also challenging.  Alzheimer’s patients will experience the disease process in different ways at various stages of the disease.  Caregiver responsibilities can range from paying bills and balancing the checkbook to bathing and dressing.

Many care options exist in the spectrum between living in a private residence and going to live in a nursing home.  Yet an Alzheimer’s patient and his or her family often dread a nursing home as the only resort, without learning about all of the care options that exist.

The attorneys of Leading Lawyers on Estate and Long Term Care Planning have helped many families explore options of care as well as develop an asset protection plan so that property and life savings are protected from the cost of such care.

Wandering can be a serious safety hazard for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease along with one of the biggest challenges for caregivers. We have all heard the horror stories about someone with dementia getting disoriented, leaving their home and wandering in the woods in the dead of winter.

The caregiver can take measures of protection by securing the environment to prevent wandering. In addition, enroll in the safe return program, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. The safe return program is a government funded program with a national database of information and photos of those registered.

Once registered, the person with dementia receives an identification necklace or bracelet with a toll free emergency number. Their photo is also registered at local law enforcement and emergency response centers. The safe return program has a 24/7 toll free crisis line. To enroll in the program, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900 or link to the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program website at https://www.alz.org/SafeReturn