5 Reasons A Paid Elder Law Consultation Makes Sense
“Free Elder Law Consultation” – or -- “I Just Need a Will”: Two Misguided Ideas
5 Reasons Why a Comprehensive Paid Consultation with an Estate Planning/Elder Law Attorney is a Valuable Investment
If you’re concerned about how your “golden years” will play out, or what will happen once you pass away, you would be well-advised to become informed about the risks that you face and how best to protect yourself and your family. Doing nothing is itself a decision, one that often leads to unanticipated and undesirable consequences. And if you do decide to take action, a “free consultation” is not likely to produce any better results.
Many people don’t know, and don’t want to think about, the full scope of financial and long-term care risks that occur as they grow older. For example, you might insist that you only need a Will. A few years later, you find that you’re spending money on long-term care like it’s coming out of a fire hose, and you discover that you could have saved and protected your money if had you created a Trust instead of a Will. That would be a horrible discovery, and it might be too late to change your plan effectively.
Turning back the clock, if you had not insisted that “I just need a Will,” you might have engaged an experienced Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney to conduct a thorough analysis of your situation and provide you with possible options and best solutions. That’s what a comprehensive paid consultation is all about.
Estate planning and long-term care planning can and usually should be integrated. An in-depth consultation with an Elder Care attorney who does both can lead you to a strategy that will protect your life’s savings while you are alive, and, upon your death, will ensure the efficient and private distribution of your assets according to your wishes.
You don’t want to rely on a “free consultation” when making such consequential decisions. Here’s why:
- Commitment and focus – on both sides When attorneys offer prospective clients a “free consultation,” neither has a sufficient commitment or investment in the process or the outcome. Time is valuable. Attorneys who have businesses can’t afford to spend hours talking with you or thinking about your issues, without charging a fee. The saying “you get what you pay for” is applicable here. Usually the free consultation ends with, “Yes, we can help you.” You paid zero, and you got zero useful advice. As a prospective client, you get to “kick the tires,” but any advice you might actually receive feels as though it has less value, because it was free. You have a few questions, but you haven’t expended much effort to prepare for the meeting. The end result is incomplete advice at best, and an unsatisfying experience.At our firm, we speak at length with people who call or email to inquire about our services. Our Client Information Specialist, or a Lamson & Cutner attorney, can determine whether an in-depth consultation is appropriate in your circumstances, while you are still on the phone. If such a meeting is indicated, you can arrange it then. We will tell you what to bring to the meeting so that we can provide you with appropriate advice.
You’re already ahead of the game by the end of the initial phone call. You have confidence that the consultation will give you valuable information, you learn something about the attorney you will be consulting with, and you find out what information you need to bring to make the meeting as productive as possible.
- Education – on both sides At a good consultation, your attorney will first learn about your particular situation – your health, your finances, your family, your concerns, and your goals. All of these factors and more are vital in developing a plan that fits your unique circumstances. As the consultation progresses, the attorney will explain and discuss the laws and rules that apply to your situation, the available options and solutions, and what strategies might work best for you. The more the attorney knows about you, the better and more accurate the advice you will receive. The more you know about the proposed course of action, the more confidence you will have that you are making the best decisions every step of the way.
- Thoroughness You are far more likely to go to the trouble of gathering the information the attorney needs to assess your situation fully, if you are spending money on the meeting. Before a consultation with a Lamson & Cutner attorney, you will receive a checklist of documents to send in advance to the firm or bring to the consultation. It will take some time and effort on your side to gather the documents and information requested. But it will be worth the effort. With a complete picture of your situation, the attorney will be able to provide better and more precise advice to you. For example, you may not believe that a time share in Florida, or your whole life insurance policy, or your 1/8 share in family property in a foreign country, are important parts of your financial picture. However, for long-term care planning, all of them count and can affect the result. For the attorney, knowing that the client is invested in the process is extremely important. Good advice is always based on knowledge of the relevant facts.
- Appropriate Recommendations At the completion of our firm’s consultation, we propose a plan – which is our recommendations for the steps we feel would best serve your purposes. In addition, and very importantly, we also tell you how much it will cost to implement that plan. At our firm, the right plan is always a cost-effective plan. Yes, a law firm is a business, and we need to make money too. However, the long-term success of our firm is and always will be based on producing excellent results for clients, at a fair price. Most of the time our firm charges a flat fee for our services. Total fees vary, depending on the number of legal documents you need and their complexity. By taking the time to review and analyze your circumstances, and discussing your objectives, an Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney can be confident in recommending steps that will:
- Protect your assets during your lifetime,
- Provide you with long-term care if needed, and
- Efficiently distribute your assets according to your wishes upon your death.
The results of good Elder Law planning are remarkable. You ensure that you can get the health care you need. Your life’s savings, which might have been wiped out paying for health care, are protected so that they last as long as possible. You safeguard not only your own financial security, but also that of your spouse if you are married, and others such as a disabled child. In addition, you’re able to leave an inheritance for your children or other heirs once you pass away.
- Peace of Mind When you commit money and effort to the process of your Elder Law and Estate Planning consultation, the end result can bring you tremendous peace of mind. It is gratifying and reassuring to know that you gathered your documents and information, explained your situation in detail, discussed your goals and wishes with your attorney, learned about the actions you could take, and chose the right plan for you. Best of all, an in-depth consultation gives you the best opportunity to find the path forward that will protect you, your family and your assets in the most cost-effective way possible. The attorneys at Lamson & Cutner are focused on making our consultations as productive and as helpful as possible. Our consultations include the following:
- A review of your family situation
- A review of your financial situation
- Discussion of your health care and long-term care needs
- Discussion of your goals and objectives regarding health care
- Discussion of goals and objectives regarding your estate
- Information about legal options that would be appropriate for you to consider
- Information about government benefit programs, such as Medicaid
- A detailed, personalized plan and fee agreement, outlining proposed steps and how much the plan would cost
Call or email us today to begin the process of planning for your future. You’ll be glad you did!
NYC Office: (212) 447-8690; Harrison, NY Office: (914) 732-3636
(Note about the Author: Ben Cutner, a rising junior at Davidson College, is interning with Lamson & Cutner this summer. He is interested in the possibility of pursuing a legal career. We asked him to write a brief article on a topic of interest to him. His article should be of particular interest to parents who have children 18 years of age or older.)
Everyone should have a Health Care Proxy, including young adults. A health emergency or major accident can happen to anyone, regardless of his or her age, and at any time. The risk of a life-threatening car or biking accident, for example, is not less for young people. Generally, young adults are more likely to engage in riskier activities than more mature adults.
A Health Care Proxy assures that, were you to be seriously injured and unable to make your own medical decisions, your legally appointed health care agent would be able make them for you. Otherwise, your parents or other family members would have limited authority, if any, to act on your behalf.
Imagine you have a son or daughter away at college who is seriously injured and becomes incapacitated. You might think that, as the parent, you can helicopter in and make all the medical and health care decisions on your child’s behalf. After all, he or she is still a dependent, on the family insurance plan, and lives at home in the summer.
If your son or daughter is 18 or older, however, he or she is legally an adult in New York and in almost every other state. Unless legally appointed as the health care agent, a parent has no authority to make medical decisions on behalf of their adult child. Please do not assume that health care professionals will allow you to decide as the parent. Without a HIPPA waiver, they may even refuse to provide you with all of the information you would like to have about your child’s medical condition.
The New York State Department of Health guidance on the Health Care Proxy includes the following FAQ:
“Who will pay attention to my agent?
All hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and other health care providers are legally required to provide your health care agent with the same information that would be provided to you and to honor the decisions by your agent as if they were made by you.” (https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1430.pdf)
Despite this guidance, Lamson & Cutner attorneys recommend that the best practice is for your Health Care Proxy to include a HIPAA waiver. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, strictly controls who can see your health information. Putting a HIPPA waiver in your Health Care Proxy will assure that your agent can access all of the information needed or desired to make an important health care decision on your behalf.
A Health Care Proxy is an advance directive—the type of document that is handled before it is needed. We sincerely hope young adults will not need their Health Care Proxy any time soon, but accidents happen. However unlikely one may be, please consider planning and preparing for a health emergency ahead of time.
If you need advice or help with your advance directives, you may want to consult with one of the experienced attorneys at Lamson & Cutner, P.C.
5 Important Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family, Financially and Legally, during the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has all of us unnerved, particularly if you live in the New York City Metropolitan Area, as I do. Understandably, the focus needs to be on staying safe and avoiding infection from the virus, and knowing what to do if you or a family member becomes infected.
The virus also raises significant financial and legal concerns, which should be addressed promptly. Take an inventory of your situation, determine what needs to be done, and take action. Here are the 5 areas that I addressed for my family, and the precise steps that I took. Now is the time for you to do the same for yourself and your family. Don’t delay, this is too important.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. For each family member, make a list of their medical conditions, and any medications they are taking on a regular basis. Make a note on your calendar when their prescriptions should be renewed, and make sure you have contact information for all of their doctors and their local pharmacy.
- Money accounts and investments. Make a list of the family’s financial assets, by financial institution, title of the account, power of attorney (if any), designated beneficiary (if any), account number, and contact information for the bank officer or financial advisor. Oftentimes, when one spouse is in charge of paying the bills and managing the family’s finances, the other spouse has little or no idea of what to do or who to contact, should it become necessary for him or her to take charge.
- Advance Directives. How would you manage the affairs (e.g., paying the bills, arranging for healthcare, making medical decisions) for a family member who becomes incapacitated? A Power of Attorney with an appropriate scope of authority, and a Health Care Proxy, are critical documents that you will want and need. A Health Care Proxy is an important document even for college age children who legally are adults (at age 18 in New York). Even though you are their parent, you no longer have the right to make medical decisions for them, should they become incapacitated. You certainly do not want to have to incur the delay, expense, and uncertain result, of a court proceeding to seek guardianship under stressful circumstances -- particularly now when the courts are in limited operation.
- Medical Insurance and Long-Term Care. Do you have adequate medical insurance, and are you aware that it does not cover long-term care (home care, adult day care, assisted living, nursing home)? Check each family member’s medical insurance (employer plan, Medicare, Medicaid, NYStateofHealth (Obamacare), or other), and make sure they have their card available if needed. What is your plan if long-term care is needed? The costs can be ruinous if you are not prepared. Long-term care insurance might be one option; Medicaid planning is another very viable option (particularly in New York State).
- Estate Plan. Even though we know we are not immortal, many of us are reluctant to think about estate planning. However, creating an estate plan can bring tremendous peace of mind. In fact, I think making an estate plan is a necessity if you have a spouse and/or children. If anything should happen to you, you don’t want to leave a mess for your family to sort out. Even worse, the lack of an estate plan could leave them in a vulnerable position. There are different ways of creating an effective estate plan, some fairly simple and others more complex. It’s crucial to get competent advice on this topic. Whether your plan is simple or complex, knowing that you have addressed this issue will provide a sense of relief, and more confidence about the future, in these uncertain times.
I hope that you and your family members, stay well and stay safe during this difficult period. Don’t hesitate to contact our law firm if you need help with estate planning, advance directives, or Medicaid. If you need assistance with financial or medical issues, please let us know, and we can make appropriate referrals.
Be well, and stay safe,
National Association of Social Workers - CE Courses
On Wednesday, September 25, David Cutner will return to the National Association of Social Workers – NYC Chapter headquarters to present a Continuing Education course on Wills, Trusts, Beneficiary Designations, and Estate Planning. This course will be an expanded version of the course the firm offers at the Lamson & Cutner offices. Registration will be available on the NASW-NYC website starting around the beginning of September.
The course will be presented from 2-5 pm at the NASW-NYC headquarters in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The address is 305 7th Avenue, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10001. The building is between 27th and 28th St.
NASW New York City Chapter is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0027 and the State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists #MFT-0060.
Lamson & Cutner Approved as CE Provider for NYS Licensed Mental Health Counselors
Lamson & Cutner, P.C. was approved by the NY State Department of Education to be an authorized provider of continuing education for Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) in New York State.
With this authorization, Lamson & Cutner continues to expand the types of professionals who can benefit from learning about Elder Law and estate planning topics, while receiving Continuing Education credits in New York State.
Elder Law issues are highly relevant to seniors who seek advice and assistance from numerous types of professionals. Now our firm can instruct Licensed Mental Health Counselors, in addition to Licensed Social Workers and Certified Case Managers, and they all can receive CE credits for the courses.
Our courses offer concrete, useful, and often crucial information that is relevant to the practices of LMHCs and others. In the courses, we discuss the risks associated with long-term care, opportunities for people to protect themselves and/or their loved ones financially and legally, and estate planning issues. We take care to explain everything clearly and understandably; feedback from past attendees has been excellent. Taking our courses is an effective way for professionals who work with seniors and the disabled, to learn how to guide their clients who need this type of service.
We look forward to seeing new faces in our classes.
CE Credits for Certified Case Managers
Lamson & Cutner is authorized to give Continuing Education credits to Certified Case Managers.
Lamson & Cutner has received authorization from the Commission for Case Manager Certification to grant Continuing Education credits to Certified Case Managers. Case management is a collaborative process that assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates the options and services required to meet a client's health and human service needs. Social workers often have Certified Case Manager certification; some nurses do as well.
Certified Case Management certification is rigorous. To retain the valued CCM® credential, board-certified case managers must earn 80 hours in continuing education every five years, or re-take the challenging CCM exam.
Now CCMs can obtain CE credits by taking Lamson & Cutner’s course on “Medicare and Medicaid.” The firm is currently applying for authorization for its other three courses. They are particularly useful for social workers and other professionals who work with seniors or disabled people with long-term care needs.
SIGN UP TODAY!
How to Review Your Finances After the Death of a Spouse: The First Three Steps
Your spouse has passed away, and now you’re on your own. The funeral or memorial service is over, and it’s time to look forward. You know you need to get a handle on your financial picture and plan for the future. But where should you start? It’s depressing, daunting, and nerve-wracking even to think about. But you can do it!
Take a deep breath, and let it out. There are many excellent professionals out there who can help you every step of the way. I’ll give a brief overview of the most important steps in getting started, but finding someone you trust to help get you (and keep you) on the path to stability and success will help enormously.
- Your first step is to figure out what you have. Make a list of all your assets. This includes bank and brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, the equity in your house, the cash value of life insurance, and other items that can be converted into cash. Ignore things like jewelry and cars unless you have a 10-carat diamond or a Ferrari you don’t need. Don’t get too hung up on exact value or details of the different accounts if it will prevent you from moving forward.
- If you have over $100,000 in assets not including the equity in your home, you may benefit from a consultation or a relationship with a financial advisor. Our firm can recommend several, but you can, of course, look for one yourself. Your best bet is a fee-only financial advisor. Fee-only advisors are paid a percentage of the assets they manage. The percentage differs, but the 1% range is not unusual.
The reason we like fee-only advisors is that they have the same goals you do – to keep your money safe and make it grow. If your assets rise in value, they make more – and if your assets lose value, they make less. If you don’t know where to look for one, but want to find one yourself, you can ask friends or your accountant (if you have one) for a recommendation.
- This is also the time to review your estate plan. We highly recommend you speak to an estate planning attorney who is also an Elder Law attorney, and here’s why. Health care is extremely expensive as you age and can wipe out your life’s savings quickly and completely. You don’t want to have a great estate plan, but end up with no estate.
An Elder Law attorney can help you structure your estate plan so that it will achieve your goals when you pass away, but also so that it will protect your assets while you are alive. The U.S. Department of Health website states that 70% of all Americans will need long-term care at some point, and 40% will need nursing home care. Protecting against this enormous risk can be vital to your long-term comfort and peace of mind.
Finding a professional who works to educate you, who has in-depth experience in the field, and who really cares about you, will give you the best opportunity to put in place a financial plan and an estate plan that reflect and incorporate your personal goals.
Hospital Inpatient vs. Outpatient Observation Status - Why It's Important
When individuals are admitted to a hospital, they can be designated as “inpatient” or under “observation status.” Many patients are unaware of these designations, which can have far-reaching consequences for billing and for subsequent treatment. These consequences are of particular concern to seniors who are covered by Medicare.
Medicare Part A pays for hospital inpatient services, but does not pay for patients under observation status. Only Medicare Part B will pay for observation status. Since most people have Part A and Part B (as well as supplemental or Medigap insurance), this may not appear to be a serious matter to them.
However, unless the patient was admitted to the hospital as an “inpatient” for at least 3 days, Medicare will not pay for subsequent rehabilitation services, and supplemental insurance will not pay either. Many patients are discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation, which can last for several weeks. These services are extremely expensive, and, if not covered by insurance, will be financially devastating for most people. For a detailed explanation, see the government’s Medicare website regarding this subject.
For those patients who have Medicare Part A only, the financial consequences of “observation status” are even more devastating. They will be required to pay out of pocket for both the hospital stay and for subsequent rehabilitation. The costs could easily run into tens of thousands of dollars.
Thus, for every senior whose primary medical insurance is Medicare, it is vitally important to know whether your hospital stay is “inpatient” or “observation status.” Medicare will not include time spent in hospital in “observation status” or in the emergency room, when determining whether you have met the 3-day hospital stay requirement for subsequent rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility. It is particularly concerning that, in some cases, patients admitted to the hospital by their own doctors have seen their inpatient status retroactively reversed by the hospital to outpatient observation status.
Starting March 8, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that hospitals must give patients a standardized “Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice” (MOON). However, the MOON does not provide any right to appeal, and patients cannot challenge their observation status. This problem is currently being addressed by the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
A sensible question to ask is: Why are hospitals admitting some patients under observation status rather than as inpatients? The answer may be found at least partly in the financial penalties Medicare imposes on hospitals if more than a certain percentage of patients are readmitted within 30 days. In a 2016 article entitled “The Hidden Financial Incentives Behind Your Shorter Hospital Stay,” the New York Times stated that “Under Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, hospitals now lose up to 3 percent of their total Medicare payments for high rates of patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge. This fiscal year — the fourth one of the program — Medicare will collect $420 million from 2,592 hospitals that had readmission rates higher than deemed appropriate. . . . [There is] evidence that hospitals are gaming the metric. For instance, patients who are placed under ‘observation status’ are not counted in the readmissions metric even though they may receive the same care as patients formally admitted to the hospital. Likewise, patients treated in the emergency room and not admitted to the hospital do not affect the readmissions metric either.”
It is unfortunate when well-intended ideas get turned into perverse incentives. Of course it would be good to reduce short-term hospital readmissions. However, it makes little sense to allow hospitals to game the system and pass on financial penalties to seniors, who tend to have chronic, recurring and deteriorating conditions. In many cases, the difference between “inpatient” and “observation status” may be nothing more than an arbitrary designation aimed at avoiding a potential financial penalty for the hospital.
When admitted to a hospital, seniors and their families need to be alert to whether their admission is “inpatient” or outpatient “observation status.” Ask your doctor to help make sure your hospital admission is “inpatient.”
At Lamson & Cutner, P.C., we provide advice and assistance regarding health care and long-term care. We don’t want our clients to be caught off guard and faced with exorbitant hospital and nursing home bills. Our Elder Law attorneys work with seniors and their families to gain access to Medicaid benefits for home care and skilled nursing care. We can advise on attaining eligibility for benefits, and how to protect your assets and income at the same time. We are experienced with Medicaid asset protection trusts, pooled income trusts, and all the most effective strategies of Elder Law practice. Contact the Elder Care Attorneys at Lamson & Cutner, P. C., for further details.
Is it Time to Consider Assisted Living?
Coming to the realization that you or a loved one may need to enter an Assisted Living facility or community can be difficult. For starters, it’s not an easy decision for anyone involved. Moving out of the home into a facility can be a touchy topic of conversation. However, in some cases safety and quality of life can improve greatly after making the transition.
What’s also important to realize is that you’re not alone. More than 735,000 Americans today live in Assisted Living facilities, according to the American Health Care Association. Assisted Living is a rapidly growing option for seniors who need long-term care. Here are three reasons to consider that same option for yourself or for your aging family member.
Avoiding Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression
As people grow older, they frequently find it more difficult to get around for everyday needs, or to visit friends and family as they once did. Driving may no longer be an option, and people can spend a lot of time alone in their homes or isolated with a spouse who is also having trouble with everyday activities. The resulting loneliness can result in exacerbated mental and physical health issues. A 2013 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that older people separated from family and friends had a 26 percent higher death risk.
Moving to an Assisted Living community means you or your loved one will be surrounded by other people in similar situations; people eager to engage in conversation. Additionally, communities typically organize activities and clubs for residents to help encourage socialization.
Can’t Maintain a Home or Keep up with Finances
Daily chores such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and paying the bills can become too cumbersome as a person gets older. If these tasks are getting neglected, an Assisted Living community is a potential solution. For example, the National Center for Assisted Living notes that 87 percent of people living in Assisted Living need help preparing meals.
Assistance with these types of activities is typically available on a fee for service basis or is bundled with the living arrangement.
Help May Be Necessary for Everyday Activities
Most seniors in Assisted Living are self-directing, and many are still able to function independently. For them, Assisted Living offers security, daily meals, housekeeping, and social programs. They have their own apartments within the facility, and retain a strong sense of independence.
Others in Assisted Living need assistance with Activities of Daily Living (commonly referred to as the “ADL’s”). These seniors cannot independently eat, bathe, move around the house, get dressed, or take care of other personal needs. Assisted Living communities usually can provide 24-hour supervision and staff to assist with the ADL’s. However, Assisted Living is not for residents who have serious medical conditions, and who require skilled nursing care.
AARP offers a checklist of how to find a reputable Assisted Living facility in your state, as they are not regulated or inspected by the federal government.
How to Pay for Assisted Living
In New York, if you need assistance with Activities of Daily Living such as dressing, bathing, or getting in and out of bed, and are in an Assisted Living facility, you may be able to access Community Medicaid to pay for it. New York Community Medicaid does not have the five year “look back” that so many people fear: the look back applies only to nursing home Medicaid. Moving to an assisted living facility can help you to remain independent longer, and you don’t have to “spend down” all your money. Obtaining Medicaid assistance quickly to pay for your care will protect your savings and allow them to last as long as possible.
This article provides only a few of the reasons why Assisted Living may be a great choice for you or someone you know. If you have specific questions about Assisted Living and how it may impact you or a loved one legally and financially, click Find Your Situation in our header, call Lamson & Cutner or click here to get in touch today.
Communicating with Alzheimer’s Patients
The declining ability to verbally communicate with others is a common trait of those dealing with Alzheimer's disease. While this can be heartbreaking and frustrating for a loved one, communication will become important in every interaction. Communicating with a person with Alzheimer's requires good listening skills, persistence, and calmness. Never stop communicating with an Alzheimer’s patient.
Changes in the ability to communicate are unique to each person with Alzheimer's disease.
Your loved one may experience a slow disintegration of verbal (or even nonverbal) communication skills due to Alzheimer’s disease. Their words or speech may not make sense to you. In turn, he or she might have trouble understanding what you are saying to them. In the early stages of the disease, the person's communication may not seem very different at all. It is very common that he or she might repeat stories or not be able to find the right word. Challenges and difficulties will be different from person to person. As the disease progresses over time, you may recognize other changes such as:
- Using familiar words repeatedly;
- Inventing new words to describe familiar objects;
- Losing his or her train of thought;
- Reverting back to a native language;
- Having difficulty organizing words logically;
- Speaking less often
Even though a person that is in the later stages Alzheimer's may not always have a response, he or she still needs and gains from both verbal and nonverbal communication with others. When communicating with a person with Alzheimer’s disease, it's especially important to choose your words carefully. The most important idea is to never stop communicating. The following tips will help when speaking and interacting with a person with Alzheimer’s:
- Say who you are. Approach the person from the front and identify who you are. If the person is seated or in a lower position, go down to their eye level.
- Use their name. It helps acclimate the person and also grabs their attention.
- Use concise words and/or phrases. Lengthy stories or statements can be too much for the patient to understand. Ask one question at a time.
- Speak slowly and distinctly. Be aware of how fast and how clear you are talking. Use a calm and relaxed voice with a soothing lower pitch.
- Maintain eye contact. It is also important to make and maintain eye contact when talking with anyone who has Alzheimer’s disease. It shows that you are paying attention and makes it easier for him to understand what you are saying, or at least what you are meaning.
- Wait patiently. The person may need extra time to process what you said. It’s important to have a patient demeanor while waiting for them to respond.
- Repeat statements or questions as needed. If the person you are communicating with doesn't have a response, wait for several seconds before asking again.
- Make visual or nonverbal gestures. To help demonstrate what you might be asking, point or touch the item you want the individual to use or process.
- Write items down. Try using written Post-It notes as reminders if the person is able to read and comprehend them.
- Treat the person with dignity and respect. This should be common sense, but it’s easy to get frustrated with a loved one when you think they don’t understand you. Avoid disrespecting the person or speaking as if they aren’t there. Be aware of your attitude that you may be communicating through your tone of voice. Use uplifting and friendly facial expressions as well as nonverbal communication.
If you or a loved one are dealing with the effects of Alzheimer’s and need a trusted advisor for elderly law, trust Lamson & Cutner, P.C. to help guide the transition.