Every day, millions of Americans take prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines to treat a variety of ailments ranging from incontinence, to depression, to allergies and more. New research, however, shows that previously unknown risks associated with certain associated drugs may be contributing to elevated rates of dementia in aging adults.
Today, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are at near epidemic levels. They currently affect over 50 million people worldwide, and about 10 million more people are diagnosed every year.
Millions of Americans and their families have also been painfully impacted by the devastating effects of dementia. These can include, but not be limited to, severe memory loss and deteriorating judgement, decision making, and behavioral functions. Alzheimer’s Disease alone is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and there is no known cure.
Several groundbreaking studies in recent years have shed light on the issue by establishing a compelling link to a class of drugs known as “anticholinergics.” These include highly technical drug names like amitriptyline, dosulepin, and paroxetine, for example, and others like oxybutynin, solifenacin, and tolterodine.
In plain English, these are are used to treat depression and the loss of bladder control.
Other conditions regularly treated with anticholinergic drugs include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s disease. Some studies include diphenhydramine, an anticholinergic ingredient in many commonly used antihistamines. Common medicines containing diphenhydramine include Benadryl, Motrin, Midol and Robitussin — although it’s important to note that these medicines have not been shown to cause dementia, only that diphenhydramine has anticholinergic effects. Anticholinergics work by blocking a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, called acetylcholine that carries brain signals for controlling muscles.
A new British study found that long-term use of certain anticholinergics is significantly linked to dementia, especially those used to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. But unlike other studies, it did not find a connection between antihistamines and dementia.
Shockingly, in some cases, a link was established for study participants who took anticholinergic drugs 15-20 years before being diagnosed with dementia. Scientists concluded that such cases reduced the possibility of mere correlation between these drugs and dementia.
While there’s much research to be done, every new study advises both physicians and patients to be vigilant about the use of anticholinergic drugs. We know just how hard it can be when a loved one faces a diagnosis like this. Do not wait to contact our office on this issue or any elder care issue you or a family member may be facing.
Did you know aging adults with limited physical mobility are at the highest risk of contracting the painful sores? If left untreated, or if there’s a delay in proper care, bedsores can easily become infected and lead to serious health risks and even death. Unfortunately, bedsores are one of the most common injuries suffered by elder Americans who stay in nursing homes.
Outside of immediate medical attention once they’re discovered, the best way to deal with them is prevent them from developing at all. In reality, this may be harder to prevent than you might think. Seniors who are immobile for extended periods of time are extremely susceptible to pressure sores, often at no fault of any caregiving treatment they are receiving.
When you are caring for your aging parent, either personally or by overseeing the care they receive, knowing associated risk factors and direct causes is extremely valuable information. This can be important for anyone who may be thinking of committing an elder parent or loved one to the care of a nursing home, and especially relevant if they are already there.
First, it’s important to understand that nursing home residents rely on their caretakers to maintain their health. If a senior is considered an “at-risk” patient or resident, he or she should be regularly re-positioned with full-body assessments being performed. This is standard care for a senior to receive, not something extra.
A healthy diet and proper hydration are also major factors in preventing bedsores as they help maintain healthy skin. Research shows that when it comes to seniors, malnutrition and dehydration can be signs of neglect. Remember that medication can also impact the senior’s intake of food and water. Be sure to check in with the doctor and the facility to make sure the medication and diet are in line to continuously improve the senior’s health.
Further, regular movement is a critical preventative factor. Anybody, not just elderly people, can be at risk of developing bedsores if they stay in one position for too long. Medical professionals commonly refer to bedsores as pressure sores because prolonged pressure to one or more areas of the body will irritate the skin, and eventually rupture it. This is why regular movement is so important.
Another cause is known as “shearing”. This occurs when skin rubs one way and underlying bone moves another way. It often happens when an elder person is hastily or otherwise improperly moved. Friction can also lead to bedsores when an aging senior’s clothes are left on too long. If there are significant issues with movement that your elderly loved one has, do not wait to talk to the long-term care facility.
We know that you may have questions when it comes to the care that your elderly loved one needs. Do not wait to contact our local elder care law firm to get answers and to help you make your caregiver decisions.
When it comes to planning for an aging parent’s long-term care needs, few legal documents are as important as a durable power of attorney. Simply put, a power of attorney grants a designated person, known as the attorney-in-fact or agent, with the legal right to make decisions on the aging parent’s behalf. Through the durability of this document, should the time come when the parent is unable to make decisions, this authority can include assisting the aging parent with financial and legal matters.
With aging adults, a sudden illness, dementia or simply the aging process itself can lead to a situation where they become incapable of managing their own affairs. When a Florida durable power of attorney is in place, an adult child, or whomever the designated attorney-in-fact is, can step in and seamlessly continue paying their bills, handle their investments, and even make long-term care decisions.
Unfortunately, if this type of planning is not in place, any number of challenging situations can arise, including the need to file a court action to obtain a guardianship. This can be time consuming, expensive, and emotionally burdensome during a difficult period. Further, with a guardianship in place, the adult children may not be able to protect the aging parent’s money from the high costs of long-term care.
Planning ahead in this regard can make a huge, maybe even critical, difference. Despite the obvious benefits, many aging Floridians do not take the necessary steps to protect themselves, their assets, and their family from long-term care costs. Long-term care costs are a reality today. Research continues to show that the majority of seniors over age 70 will need some type of long-term care in the future.
Despite this continuing trend, many aging adults do not think about a future that could include long-term care. This could be for any number of reasons including a genuine fear over how to afford future care and that the senior will be in a position of vulnerability. When the aging adult’s planning is not completed in advance of a crisis, however, the durable power of attorney becomes the family and the senior’s best protection from this uncertainty.
Through the Florida durable power of attorney, the agent will be able to care for the elder in a way that makes sense for him or her. The agent will be able to find good care and determine the best way to pay for it. This could even include hiring an elder care attorney to help with the process.
If you’re aging parent is resistant, we encourage you to talk to them sooner rather than later. The durable power of attorney in Florida is your family’s best ally when it comes to crisis planning for the long-term care costs that may be needed in the future. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and are here to help you as an elder care resource.
If I had a dollar for every parent or grandparent who thinks that leaving a disabled child’s inheritance to a sibling or other loved one who will “take care of” the disabled child is a good idea, I’d be wealthy. That’s actually the worst thing to do.
What if the loved one dies or becomes disabled? What if they get sued or divorced? Now that Americans are living longer than they did in years past, including those with disabilities, this is an especially important subject.
Planning by parents and grandparents can make all the difference in the life of an adult child with a disability, as well as that of his or her siblings who may be left with the responsibility for caretaking (on top of their own careers and caring for their own families).
Supplemental needs trusts (also known as “special needs” trusts) are an important component of planning for a disabled child, even when the child is an adult. These trusts allow a disabled beneficiary to receive inheritances, gifts, lawsuit settlements, or other funds and yet not lose her eligibility for certain government programs like Medicaid.
As their name implies, supplemental needs trusts are designed not to provide basic support, but instead to pay for comforts and luxuries that could not be paid for by public assistance funds. These trusts typically pay for things like education, recreation, counseling, and medical attention beyond the simple necessities of life.
So do your loved ones a favor, speak with an Elder Law Attorney about creating a Supplemental Needs Trust. Contact our office with any questions you may have.
The older one gets, the more they tend to appreciate the relationships that matter most. In many cases, it’s loving and appreciating aging parents. It’s only natural that we want to take care of our parents, especially as they age. The question becomes: How can well-meaning adult children provide support and care when they don’t live in the same area?
It’s a dilemma that countless people face and our clients frequently ask us. Luckily, it is not one without any solutions. Although regularly stopping by to see them might not be an option, with a little information and some extra effort you can do a lot for your parents.
Let us share five ways you can provide support for elder parents no matter how big the distance.
1. Create a “Care” Notebook. This is a tool that has never been more manageable than in our current digitized world. Create an online notebook you can share with your aging parents and siblings that lists key contact, health, calendar, and other important information that may need to be available at a moment’s notice.
You may want to go a step beyond sharing it. Consider allowing family and friends to have the ability to add to it. This shared project can be a great way to infuse a network of support with updates and happenings about your elderly loved one.
2. Regular Conversations. The best practice is to call regularly and visit whenever you can. Encourage others to do the same, and be sure to make the most out of each opportunity. The easiest way to feel a connection might just be calling and saying hi, then listening. Other occasions might require leading questions and some gentle probing. For example, “What’s on the agenda for this afternoon?” or “How’s Dr. Smith?”
3. Build a Local Support Network. If you live far away, you obviously can’t just pop by when you need to. In the case of a health issue, or an emergency, this can a serious problem.
One way to hedge against such scenarios is to develop a list of key individuals such as neighbors, care providers, doctors, and others who can pitch in during an emergency. Be sure they have your contact information to facilitate an efficient two-way communication and ultimately know who is in charge pursuant to your parents’ Florida estate planning.
4. Daily Assistance. Long distance relationships by nature are void of daily appearances. Don’t wait to make sure your potentially isolated parents have continuous interaction. Work on coordinating with various organizations and individuals to schedule frequent assistance such as meal deliveries, check-ups from home health aides, and others.
5. Involving Family Members. No one wants their adult parents to be alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone either. Spread the love and share the burden together. Involve other family members to assist in communication, and other important health, financial, social, and legal considerations.
Often family members with the closest geographic proximity are relied upon the most, but with involved family members there doesn’t have to be any undue burdens. Work together on the elder care issues facing your aging parents as a team. Don’t forget, we are here to help and would love to discuss the planning you need for success.
Long-Term Care Asset Protection planning is a difficult and confusing process. Families make many mistakes when planning, usually, because they were given bad information from well-meaning loved ones, friends, and non-attorney professionals.
Thinking it’s too late to plan. It’s rarely too late to take planning steps, even after a senior has started receiving care at home, in an assisted living community, or a nursing home.
Giving away assets to children. First, it’s your money (or your house, or both). Take care of yourself first. When a child dies, becomes incapacitated, is sued, or gets divorced, they can no longer give money back to you when you need it. There are other ways to protect your money and remain in control of it.
Ignoring important permissible strategies created by Congress. There are many strategies authorized by Congress that people simply don’t know about. Unfortunately, space doesn’t allow me to explain.
Failing to plan for the spouse of a care recipient. If the spouse of a care recipient dies first, then the government benefits received by the care recipient are put in jeopardy. This can be avoided.
Applying for Government Benefits too late. This happens a lot. The family innocently uses funds to pay for long-term care that the government can’t count, so they lose tens of thousands of dollars. Know when to apply for benefits.
Not getting expert help. Long-Term Care Asset Protection Planning is a complicated field. Tens of thousands of dollars are at stake, sometimes more. It’s penny wise and pound foolish not to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable elder care attorney.
If you have any questions regarding this article, don’t hesitate to contact our office.