Monday, May 21, 2012

Understanding a Family Member with Alzheimers

What Can I do to Understand What My Family Member with Alzheimer's is Going Through? 

Of course, you will never totally comprehend it, and you'll never totally be able to feel it...mainly because your family member will never totally understand it, not to mention be able to express his or her feelings about Alzheimer's.

There may be more challenging things in the world than caring for an Alzheimer's patient...but not many of them.  And, unfortunately, your path towards a better awareness of what your loved one is going through and what they are feeling must be based in the recognition that you'll never fully know.

Alzheimer’s disease is a permanent, progressive brain disease that gradually ruins memory and thinking skills, and ultimately even the capability to perform the simplest tasks. For most people with Alzheimer’s, signs or symptoms first appear after age 60. Estimations vary, but experts suggest that approximately 5.1 million Americans might have Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is among the most frequent cause of dementia among seniors. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning-thinking, recalling, and reasoning-and behavioral capabilities, to such an degree that it interferes with a person’s day to day life and activities. 

Dementia ranges in severity from the earliest stages, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on other people for basic activities of daily living.
The Good News!

Despite the fact that Alzheimer's is not yet fully understood by the medical community much less the general public, the good news is that resources can be found to provide you with options to assist you in helping your loved one that is afflicted with this disease; there are tons of articles, thousands of discussion, and numerous organizations and institutions are studying it; in fact more than ever before.

One can learn great deal about what your loved one is feeling by joining caregiver support group. (And you will also benefit from the realization that there are many other folks in the same situation that your family is in and that certainly there are so many others dealing with the similar circumstances that you are!) Other great resources include the local Alzheimer's Association (, and the local Area Agency on Aging.  Among the best resources is National Institute on Aging, part of The National Institutes of Health (

If I listed every resource with information on Alzheimer's, I would need an entire website and not just a blog post.  There are also a vast number of books available and I recommend that you contact the Alzheimer's Association for the ones that they recommend.  Another way to find books on Alzheimer's is to go to and simply type in Alzheimer's in the search box. You could literally spend years reading the Internet articles and books that are out there regarding Alzheimer's.


One of the problems with simply doing your own research however, is that none of these resources can tell you what the best course of action is to take for your family. The absolute best way to develop a plan to achieve your families objectives is to consult with an elder law attorney who is experienced in assisting families with loved ones who have dementia. Oftentimes families are not even aware of some of the issues that exist or will develop when a loved one has Alzheimer's. An elder law attorney will review your family's unique situation, discuss and come to an understanding of what your objectives are, explain the law surrounding long-term care, estate planning and public benefits planning (Medicaid, Medi-Cal, Veterans Benefits, and then provide you with various options to achieve your families objectives.

At the Casiano Law Firm, I have devoted my practice deserving seniors and their families with all the legal issues that arise as one grows older. I can assist families with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's with professionalism and trust, and most of all with compassion, and, at the appropriate interval. In addition, I can also assist, and often time the solutions I will present include comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, protection of family assets, inheritance preservation and issues with Medicaid, Medi-Cal and Veterans Benefits.

Remember, you do not have to do this alone.  I offer a no fee phone conversation, where we can talk about your family's unique situation, before you agree to come in for an in-depth consultation.  Remember, I am here to help; all you need to do is to give me a call.  619-800-6820.  

Elder Law Attorney Vinny Casiano at the San Diego End of Life Expo

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Do It Yourself Estate Planning

This post is a follow up to my article a couple of week ago "Purchasing Estate Planning Documents over the Internet Vs. Hiring an Attorney".  

The Do It Yourself Estate Planning advocated by Suzie Orman and Legal Zoom and Quicken are just not worth it!  

While persons having "simple" estates and in California what I mean by that is they do not own any real property and the GROSS value of their estates is less than $150,000, may be able to get away with using a do it yourself kit, the possibility of not getting it right is not worth the savings of a couple of hundred of dollars.

Wills in all states have very specific criteria on the language that needs to be used and the way they are signed.  Just as importantly, Wills only apply to assets (meaning property and accounts) that do not have a valid beneficiary designation.  Failure to understand these concepts and not following the strict formalities in signing your estate planning documents result in those documents being invalid.  This could very well result in your loved ones fighting over your plan and/or having to spend thousands of dollars to go to court to straighten everything out.

See the American Bar Association's Real Property and Probate Sections' task force report on Do It Yourself Estate Planning:

Just as importantly such Do It Yourself Plans do not address what happens if you need long term care before you die!

Most people would much prefer to preserve at least some of their property for their spouse and children rather than spending it all on long term care costs in the last years before they die.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that people who reach age 65 will likely have a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home. About 10 percent of the people who enter a nursing home will stay there five years or more. 

The cost of a nursing home care in California ranges from a minimum of $6,000 to upwards of $9,000.  Medicare may pay for the first 20 days and will partially, but rarely pay for the next 100 days (co-pay of $145/day).  Doesn't it make sense to seek the advice of an experienced elder lawyer to deal with these issues rather than leaving it to chance?

At the Casiano Law Firm - we know elder law and how to create estate plans to address concerns over long term care issues, nursing home costs, irresponsible children, children with special needs among many other issues.  We do not use forms for a one size fits all plan.  We do have a variety of plans so that our clients can decide, after an explanation of various options what they need or don't need and the plan is priced according to the options a family chooses.  In other words our clients get to choose the price they want to pay! 

Feel free to give Vinny Casiano a call for a no-charge phone consult to see how we can help your family with the some of the most important decisions one can make.  619-800-6820