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- AlerStallings

Recently the AlerStallings team took part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise critical funds to help fight the disease. While the walk takes place just once a year, there’s another way you can help fight Alzheimer’s year-round: by recognizing the warning signs.  


Early recognition of symptoms can help you or your loved one get care sooner, which translates to more treatment options and a better chance of benefitting from them. And for anyone who has already been diagnosed, early recognition of the signs of disease progression is important for making timely care decisions that improve quality of life.  


What should you look for? Here are the signs and symptoms to keep in mind at each stage: 


3 Pre-Diagnosis Signs You Might Need to See a Doctor 



We all forget names or appointments from time to time. Usually, even if we forget something in the moment, it comes to us later.  However, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may have difficulty recalling recently learned information. Their reliance on friends, family, sticky notes or electronics to remind them of important things like dates or events will increase. They may start asking the same questions over and over again.


Confusion About Time and Place 

In addition to losing track of dates, someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may have trouble remembering where they are or how they got there. They can struggle to identify the seasons or how much time has elapsed.   


Difficulty Completing Simple Tasks 

It’s expected that sometimes we’ll forget how to work the DVR or need help remembering how to use the microwave’s defrost setting. The difference is someone with early Alzheimer’s will have trouble remembering how to drive somewhere they frequently go, or how to play their favorite game. 



3 Signs You May Need Extra Help at Home 


The middle stage of Alzheimer’s can last many years and overlap with others, which can make it difficult to tell exactly where someone is at in their disease progression. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to individual signs and discuss the threshold at which extra help will be beneficial early on. 


Daily Functions of Living Become Challenging 

New recipes can sometimes be hard to follow, but someone with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following a recipe they’ve made many times before. Another example is the bills aren’t getting paid because the task has become cognitively challenging or is slipping the mind. Occasional forgetfulness is normal; the distinction is when tasks take longer or concentrating is difficult. 


Making Bad Decisions or Demonstrating Poor Judgement 

Putting off a benign home repair or procrastinating on routine car maintenance is one thing, but when someone begins making poor financial decisions that seem out of character, that’s cause for concern. If someone with Alzheimer’s falls prey to a scam or makes decisions—financial or otherwise—that put their well-being at risk, that may be a signal it’s time for extra help. 


Decline in Physical Health or Changes in Mood 

Finally, it’s important for a person with Alzheimer’s to be able to perform basic self-care. If personal hygiene begins to suffer, or there’s a decline in care for a pet in their home, extra help could be beneficial. That’s also the case in the event that a patient begins to trip or drop things more frequently, is having changes in sleep patterns, or is having trouble controlling their bladder or bowels. Similarly, changes to mental health, such as becoming fearful, anxious, suspicious or depressed, may necessitate additional care.  



3 Signs it May be Time to Consider a Memory Care Facility 


As Alzheimer’s progresses, a patient’s care needs become greater than what can be provided at home, even with additional help. A memory care facility can provide the around-the-clock care needed to preserve quality of life. 

Unable to Communicate Effectively 

People living with Alzheimer’s may begin to have difficulty expressing themselves. They may stop mid-thought during a conversation, struggle to find the right words, call common objects by the wrong names, or be unable to recall information about themselves (such as where they live or went to school). 

People in the last stages of Alzheimer’s begin to lose the ability to carry on a conversation. Communication may be limited to a select number of words or phrases. They may not be aware of their surroundings or recent experiences. It’s important for families and caretakers to discuss with a loved one with Alzheimer’s their wishes for care in the later stages before communication becomes impaired so their desires can be carried out. 


Changes in Physical Abilities 

Eventually, people with late-stage Alzheimer’s may have difficulty eating or swallowing. They’ll need assistance with walking and sitting. In very late stages, they may lose the ability to walk altogether. A facility that provides around-the-clock care can meet these extensive needs, allowing family and friends to shift from being the primary caretakers to focusing on providing comforting interactions like reading aloud, gentle touch, and playing favorite songs. 


Increased Risk of Infection & Additional Health Problems 

Communicating pain can become difficult as the diseases progresses, which is why it’s important to look for nonverbal signs that indicate discomfort or illness, like wincing, behavioral or sleep changes, pale skin, vomiting, fever, swelling, or mouth sores.  


As the disease progresses in the later stages, a person with Alzheimer’s can become more prone to infection, especially as they’re less able to move around. Around-the-clock care helps spot potential problems early on for prompt treatment. 


Remember, when it comes to the fight against Alzheimer’s, knowledge is power. If you know someone who could benefit from this information, we encourage you to share this article. For more information on Alzheimer’s warning signs, research and support, visit 


At AlerStallings, we’re here for you for life. If you or someone you love needs at-home or long-term care, count on us to be by your side. We’ll provide confidential, compassionate support to help you understand and maximize available benefits and develop a plan to protect your or your loved one’s assets.  

- AlerStallings

How They Work, What They Do (or Don’t Do) and How They’re Used


Regardless of life stage or approach, estate planning is an emotional process. That’s because the heart of the matter is often the care and well-being of someone you love, and for that, you want to be sure you’re employing the best tools possible. Enter trusts. 


Trusts are legal vehicles that hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries and they’re a valuable tool in estate planning and elder care law. There are many types of trusts, which can make navigating the options confusing. That’s why we created this handy cheat sheet to provide an easy point of reference for some of the most common terms you’ll hear. 



At AlerStallings, we leverage all of these—especially asset protection trusts—and many more. Asset protection trusts are particularly beneficial because they provide protection against long-term care costs, one of the greatest (and most underestimated) risks to your hard-earned money. 


Not sure what you’ll need? Chances are you’ll employ at least one of these legal tools before you die. Therefore, the more pertinent question may not be which you’ll use, but rather, whether you have a broader plan for protecting what matters most in your golden years. While there’s no cheat sheet for finding the right solution for your family, hopefully this guide, plus a caring estate planning or elder care attorney, will make it easier. 

- AlerStallings

Get the Facts on this Tough Question


The transition to a nursing home can be unexpected and hard enough—whether it’s you, a spouse, or a loved one that requires long-term care. Concern over losing a home doesn’t make that transition any easier. So, let’s get down to the facts. 

Yes, your home may be used to pay for your long-term care, but how that happens might not be the way you’d envisioned. With the average cost of a private room in a nursing home exceeding $90,000 annually, many people require government assistance, such as Medicaid, to cover the bills. In turn, the state may seek to reimburse those costs, a term called right of recovery. Your circumstances, like whether you’re married or single, dictate how and when. 



If You’re Married


If only one spouse requires long-term care, the other will be able to stay in their home. However, the state keeps track of how much financial help is received and will put a lien on the house to recoup what it paid in long-term care costs. Once both spouses pass, the proceeds from the sale of the home will go toward settling the lien. 

But what happens if the spouse in the nursing home survives the spouse that remains at home? In that case, the state may require you to sell your home to fund your nursing home costs. There are, however, grey areas that could allow your home to stay in your family—for instance if an adult child lived in the home with you and acted as a caretaker for the nursing home resident for a period of two years or more, or if you have a permanently disabled child. In these cases, it may be possible to transfer ownership of the home to them without penalty. It’s important to consult with an elder care or estate planning attorney as soon as possible in circumstances like these to evaluate your options. 



If You’re Single or Widowed


If you don’t have a spouse or dependent occupying the home, you’ll need to sell it to qualify for assistance. If you die before the home sells, a lien could be placed on the home and some or all of the proceeds may be used to reimburse the state for the cost of your care.  

Just as above, there are some exceptions to the rule, including if an adult child was caring for you in the home for a certain period of time. You’ll want to discuss these scenarios with an attorney early on to ensure you’ll meet the criteria. 



What You Can Do


Can these scenarios be avoided? Yes, with some advance planning you may be able to protect your home for future generations. Thankfully you have options, but those options begin to diminish with time. Early action is important. 

We know how heartbreaking this situation can be, from adult children who learn of a lien on their childhood home after their parents pass, to seniors who fight to keep possession of a beloved residence. That’s why we’re passionate about helping our clients develop strategies that preserve what’s most important. It’s not a one-and-done engagement, but rather one we address with heart, for life, for every client we serve. 

- AlerStallings

You don’t usually get a heads up when a nursing home will be needed. That’s why so many people are caught off guard when it happens and make decisions under stress that they might not have made otherwise—including decisions that put their assets at risk. Thankfully, if you’ve found yourself in this position, the ship has not sailed on the opportunity to protect yourself, even if you’re already in a nursing home. 



Sink or Swim Decisions 


When you move into a nursing home, financially you have two options: sink—and lose all your money—or swim and make choices that can save some of your assets. Here’s what that means.  


If you’re single and you do nothing to protect yourself, all your assets will go towards paying for your care. You’ll keep a measly $2,000. If you’re married, your spouse can live in the house, but it will be subject to a future lien. The most that a healthy spouse gets to keep is about $130,000. Suffice to say, this can leave your spouse with little to count on. 


To avoid this, some people will try to draw down their estates by giving away their assets to family and friends in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage. But this presents its own set of problems. Medicaid has a look-back period of five years, meaning transfers made in the five years prior to receiving coverage can render you ineligible.  



Your Life Preserver 


Thankfully, elder law attorneys can be your life preserver in this difficult scenario. Just as accountants help you save money in taxes, elder law attorneys can minimize how much money you lose to long-term care costs.  


One tool an elder law attorney may recommend is an asset protection trust, which helps shield your assets from the nursing home. If you’re not currently in a nursing home, this strategy may save you or a spouse heartache down the line, especially if implemented at least five years prior to when a long-term care facility is needed. 


In some scenarios you can transfer assets without compromising Medicaid eligibility, even if you are in a nursing home. However, they’re not always easy to understand. Having an elder law attorney can help you navigate the ins and outs. They can also advise on which assets you can safely keep in your name.  



How to Orient Yourself for Smooth Sailing 


The bottom line is: the sooner you start planning, the more assets you’ll be able to save. But even if you haven’t started planning, it’s never too late to right the ship. Your first step is finding the right elder care attorney for you. Since we know it can be difficult to figure out where to start, we’ve created a guide with all the important questions to ask the attorneys you’re considering. Download it to help you find your best match and enjoy smoother sailing going forward.