It's estimated that 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer's dementia in 2018. The Alzheimer's Association identifies a number of early signs and symptoms. They are worth reviewing. Now, for every one of these signs, there are typical age-related changes not attributable to Alzheimer's. It might be a matter of degree.
This weekend I was a presenter at San Francisco Assessor Carmen Chu's Family Wealth Workshop. The title of my presentation was "Protecting Against Elder Financial Abuse." I was able to share stories with the community and they in turn shared stories with me. I find this the most gratifying part of these events.
Estate sales can be an emotionally wrenching, but sometimes necessary, step in moving forward after a loved one's passing. It's an unfortunate reality, however, that estate liquidation is also an opportunity for fraud and even elder financial abuse by wrongdoers.
The world lost a great talent last month when Aretha Franklin, known as "The Queen of Soul" passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. In a remarkable career that spanned nearly 6 decades, Franklin was acclaimed for her hit songs, "Chain of Fools," "A Natural Woman," and "Respect."
Alzheimer's disease affects Californians on an ever greater scale, and Baby Boomers are now at risk. According to the Alzheimer's Assocation, one in eight will develop Alzheimer's disease, while one in six will develop dementia. Stunningly, only half of Alzheimer's cases in America are diagnosed. That means half of all seniors suffering from Alzheimer's aren't getting the care and protection they deserve. Non-diagnosis multiplies the dangers a patient faces, from lack of proper medical treatment to vulnerability to elder financial abuse.
"Just one more thing..."
If you have an elderly loved one with Alzheimer's, you'll know how important it is to look after their safety. It's easy to worry. Maybe your parent or grandparent has left the stove on while cooking, unintentionally causing a fire hazard. Maybe they've wandered off in the neighborhood, only to be found and returned hours later by a good Samaritan. In the same way, a senior suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia or Lewy body dementia is especially vulnerable to elder financial abuse.
Trust beneficiary mediations are emotional. Alzheimer's, dementia, stepmothers, split families, undue influence and missing estate assets are threads that often run through the fabric of mediated estate and trust disputes. Passions run high. Feelings of betrayal mixed with grief are common to trust challengers and a protective belief of entitlement is common to the challenged.
"Honor thy father and thy mother." This commandment, deeply embedded in our Judeo-Christian heritage, is a fabric of our daily lives. A fabric that draws little reflection, that is until an event or circumstance occurs and unnerves us.