Watching someone you care about struggle with memory loss or changes in behavior can be alarming. Dementia can sneak up slowly, making it hard to identify in the initial stages. The early signs of dementia are easy to miss, so early detection can make a big difference. Let’s dive in.
Common Early Signs of Dementia
Memory Loss That Affects Daily Life
Everyone forgets things occasionally. But if your loved one regularly forgets important dates or repeatedly asks for the same information, take note.
Struggling With Planning or Problem-Solving
If you notice difficulty in making plans or following a recipe, this could signal dementia. Pay attention to any changes in their ability to concentrate.
Trouble With Familiar Tasks
Normal aging doesn’t make people forget how to navigate familiar routes or operate appliances. If these become issues, consider them red flags.
Confusion With Time or Place
People with dementia often lose track of time, dates, and seasons. If your loved one becomes confused about where they are or how they got there, don’t ignore it.
Poor decision-making, like giving away money or neglecting personal grooming, can be a sign. If you notice an unusual lapse in judgment, it’s time to dig deeper.
Difficulty With Words
Struggling to find the right words during conversations can frustrate anyone, but it can be a symptom if it happens frequently.
People with dementia often repeat stories without realizing they’ve already told them. Keep an ear out for this habit.
Emotional and Personality Changes
Look for shifts in mood or personality. Individuals with dementia may become irritable, anxious, or even aggressive.
Losing interest in social activities or hobbies can be a red flag. If you notice a sudden withdrawal, it may be more than just normal aging.
Early Signs of Dementia: Practical Steps for Concerned Loved Ones
Initiate a Conversation
It’s not easy, but discussing the symptoms with your loved one is the first step. Choose a comfortable setting and use “I” statements to avoid making them defensive.
Seek Medical Advice
If symptoms persist, consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. The sooner you act, the better the chances for effective management.
Make Lifestyle Adjustments
A balanced diet and regular exercise can help manage symptoms. Consider creating a daily routine to give your loved one a sense of structure.
Start Planning for the Future
Begin discussing options like power of attorney and other advance directives. These discussions are especially vital if you suspect dementia, as the person’s cognitive abilities may decline over time.
The Necessity of Nursing Home Care and the Role of Medicaid Planning
Why Nursing Home Care?
Dementia is a progressive condition, and its advancement often makes home care unfeasible, even with the best of intentions and resources. As the disease progresses, the need for round-the-clock professional care frequently becomes unavoidable. Knowing the early signs of dementia and planning for them are of the utmost importance during this time.
What Medicare Doesn’t Cover
It’s a common misconception that Medicare will cover long-term nursing home care. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Medicare may cover short-term rehab stays after a hospitalization but doesn’t extend to long-term care, a service often needed by those with advancing dementia.
Medicaid to the Rescue
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid can cover the extensive costs of long-term nursing home care. But there’s a catch: Medicaid is designed for low-income individuals and has stringent asset limitations.
For a senior to qualify, they must have less than $30,182 in assets in New York. However, certain things like your home are not counted, although there is equity limit of $1.33 million.
The Solution: Medicaid Planning
You can’t simply transfer assets out of a senior’s name to qualify for Medicaid; there’s a five-year look-back period for asset transfers. Any assets moved during this time could result in a penalty period during which Medicaid won’t cover care costs.
The solution often lies in setting up an irrevocable Medicaid trust. This allows a senior to effectively remove assets from their estate, helping them qualify for Medicaid while also preserving the estate for heirs.
Importantly, this trust must be funded at least five years before applying for Medicaid to avoid the look-back penalty.
It’s crucial to understand that once you fund the irrevocable Medicaid trust, you cannot touch the principal. However, you can accept distributions of the earnings until and unless you apply for Medicaid.
View Our On-Demand Webinar
If you would like to learn more about estate planning and nursing home asset protection, view our on-demand webinar. It is offered free of charge, and you can click the following link to gain access: Manhattan, NY Medicaid and estate planning webinar.