Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Legal Dangers of Living Together

WeddingcakeAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of unmarried couples who 50 and over shot up 75% between 2007 and 2016. For many it is because they have already experienced one difficult divorce and are nervous to entangle themselves and their possessions again. But simply living together can end up being complex because estate planning laws were written to favor married couples.

If one partner has a medical emergency and has not executed a health care power of attorney, the other partner cannot make any decisions for them. They would be considered "legal strangers." If they were married, however, not having the document would not hinder the healthy partner from making appropriate choices. Unmarried couples also need to get signed HIPAA releases so medical information can be released to them. Death of one partner can also create more woes. Without the proper legal documents, the surviving partner won’t be entitled to make decisions regarding the donation of the deceased’s organs or arrange for the person’s burial or cremation.

When there is a financial imbalance and one partner has promised to take care of the other, with no trust or will in place can cause serious problems for an unmarried couple. If the wealthier one dies intestate, their assets will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of their state and an unmarried partner is not recognized as an heir. On the other hand, if they were married and died intestate in a community property state, the surviving spouse is automatically entitled to inherit as much as half the value of the deceased’s assets.

See Brad Wiewel, The Legal Dangers of Living Together, Next Avenue, August 28, 2019.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 31, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

CLE on Estate Planning for Every Phase of Life

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webinar entitled, Estate Planning for Every Phase of Life, on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 12:00 PM - 3:15 PM Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Advise Clients of All Ages with Confidence

Clients at each stage of life pose unique estate planning challenges that even the most skilled advisor may overlook. Are you prepared to address the concerns of individuals of all ages, from young parents considering a will for the first time, to retirees planning for long-term care? This program will provide you with practical guidance on how to apply fundamental planning techniques to your client's specific circumstances. Address the estate planning concerns of individuals at all stages with certainty - register today!

    • Provide your clients with peace of mind by establishing a plan for guardianship and custody of minor children.
    • Understand what estate planning documents need to be updated after a divorce.
    • Work with your clients to create a plan for charitable giving.
    • Help your aging clients understand what their adult children need to know about their parents' estate plan.
    • Review the essential documents needed at each stage of life.

Who Should Attend

This program is designed for attorneys. Accountants and paralegals may also benefit.

Course Content

    • Retirees: Planning for Long-Term Care and Grandchildren
    • Clients of Advanced Age
    • Essential Documents Needed at Each Stage of Life
    • Estate Plan for a Young Married Couple
    • Divorced and Remarried Clients
    • Clients with Charitable intent

August 22, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Who’s Responsible for Your Parents’ Nursing Home Cost? It’s Not Who You Think

LtcThe cost of long-term care is an expense that many people are wary of planning for, mostly because they do not want to imagine themselves being incapacitated or needing extra medical care. But not only is long term care becoming more of a reality, but the financial aspect can impact a patient's child as well.

In some case, courts have enforced that children are liable for the nursing home expenses of their parents if a state has enacted a filial law. They are on the books in 28 states and can provide a powerful motivation to encourage clients to plan for their future long term care costs. One case saw a son held liable for $93,000 in nursing home costs for his mother, even though her Medicaid application remained pending and without regard to whether other potential sources of payment (including two other siblings) existed. Another newer case involved one son suing his brother to reimburse costs for their mother's around the clock in-home care.

Long term care itself has become so expensive that several insurance providers have stopped offering standalone long-term care insurance policies entirely. Hybrid products that combine long term care insurance with an annuity can relieve many anxieties because if the insurance is never used, a death benefit can still be paid out. Planning for the unexpected is always more beneficial than leaving it up to chance, and possibly the bills up to your children.

See William H. Byrnes & Robert Bloink, Who’s Responsible for Your Parents’ Nursing Home Cost? It’s Not Who You Think, Think Advisor, May 10, 2019.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 8, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Comment on Losing Your Mind, Losing Your Rights?: A Certification Process to Safeguard Alzheimer's Patients and the Moving Target of the Lucid Interval

AlzKaitlyn C. Meeks recently published a Comment entitled, Losing Your Mind, Losing Your Rights?: A Certification Process to Safeguard Alzheimer's Patients and the Moving Target of the Lucid Interval, 44 U. Dayton L. Rev. 79-109 (2018). Provided below is an introduction to the Comment.

Picture this: you have awakened, on a seemingly normal day, to a drastic lifestyle change -- the care of your mother or father. You, the child, have now become the parent. Why has this happened? One, or perhaps both, of your parents was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease ("AD"), rendering him or her incapable, in the eyes of the law, of maintaining complete and autonomous control over their life. The child is now the sole caretaker for the parent's health, safety, finances, well-being, and legacy. As the new primary caretaker for an ailing parent, your life has become overwhelmed with legalities -- Power of Attorney Forms, Health Care Directives, and Living Wills and Trusts. These stresses are in addition to the emotional effects as well as the financial and physical demands a caregiver is confronted with on a day-to-day basis.

Will you ever be able to see the parent you once knew again, or will the remainder of your parent's life be surrounded in a cloud of the unknown? And then, with no warning, it is as if nothing but time has changed, and there is a return to your loved one's true self. Yet, with the blink of an eye, the disease takes hold once again, and the moment of lucidity has vanished.

"Your brain is your most powerful organ[.]" However, it is exactly the powerhouse organ which is attacked when a person has a degenerative disease like dementia. Dementia is the collective name for a series of brain disorders which affect cognitive capabilities, generally worsening as time progresses. Alzheimer's disease ("AD") is the most common and prevalent form of dementia. Since AD was first discovered in 1901, our ability to treat and cure the disease has yet to encounter any significant medical breakthroughs.

"Every four seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease." Within the United States, someone develops the disease every sixty-six seconds. According to the 2017 annual report by the Alzheimer's Association, one in ten people over the age of sixty-five are currently living with the disease, and the data projects that the amount of people who will be affected by AD will double within the next thirty years as the baby boomer generation settles into the elderly population. The elderly and "oldest-old" populations are expected to account for nearly 80 million Americans by 2050.

AD primarily affects the elderly; however, the elderly, in general, are an age group which seems to traditionally be excluded from many research benefits, including financial resources. Perhaps this illuminates the reason why one of the most aggressive diseases in today's society has failed to be cured, halted, or even alleviated. While the fight against AD is not stagnant by any means, an inability to proactively address issues stemming from the disease will have adverse effects on numerous professions.

Examining the growth of the disease's prevalence, there is an inevitable chance of correlation affecting the legal system through capacity challenges pertaining to AD patients, both while alive and after death. While areas of capacity, have been argued, discussed, and critiqued throughout the years, it seems that no clear foundation or consensus on how to address these growing issues has been established. Undeniably, without clear visions, capacity issues with AD patients will only worsen, especially when taking into consideration it is not a "one size fits all" kind of disorder.

In consideration of capacity issues for those suffering from AD, brief, spontaneous moments of lucidity sets apart the legal complications of the disease from many other disorders. Both in the medical and legal sense, a lucid interval is defined as "[a] period of sanity intervening periods of insanity[,]" and is measured by its strength, in that "[i]t must be such a full return of his mind to sanity . . . enabling [a person] to understand and transact his affairs as usual." For a person with AD, especially an advanced state of the disease, a lucid interval may be the only time he or she is able to make decisions for him or herself, or to see that his or her wishes in place are being properly executed. Because of this, the lucid interval is a "moving target." There is simply no way to predict a lucid interval, and there is no way to confirm a lucid interval without awareness in the aftermath.
This Comment will examine the increasing importance of a more standardized approach for an attorney to take when counseling an AD patient. First, to set the scene, an in-depth examination of the disease is needed: what AD is, the history of the disease, the unsuccessful attempts to prevent or cure Alzheimer's, and its current and future impact on society and the economy. Second, this Comment will address the current state of AD within the courts. The focus will be on how AD is currently seen in a legal context and how the lucid interval is treated within the judiciary. In addition, a Puerto Rico statute, which seems to balance the rights of freedom to contract with the protections of the patient's current and future estate interests, creates an unattainable objective approach to balancing the lucid interval and AD.

Third, this Comment will examine the conclusions of prior and recent case law to demonstrate how the topic has been construed in various states, focusing on how the application varies within the judiciary. Lastly, the Comment will propose a certification process for attorneys who regularly assist as counsel to AD patients. The proposed course will certify any participating attorney as a "Certified Alzheimer's Legal Specialist" upon successful completion. A Certified Alzheimer's Legal Specialist would best be defined as an attorney who is substantially familiar with the disease itself, can fully comprehend the legal ramifications of the client's desired acts by taking the time to understand the condition as pertaining to the individual client, and can ultimately serve in the prime position to ensure that an individual possesses the requisite capacity mandated under the law. This standardized approach would serve as clear evidence that his or her client was within a lucid interval -- having adequate capacity -- at the time a document was executed. The attorney is then the party that both understands the legal ramifications and how those ramifications benefit the client. This will help to not only protect the rights of an AD patient's autonomy, but will ultimately help eliminate the inevitable flooding of the courts.

It is paramount to maintain objective standards when examining an AD patient's affairs, as opposed to the subjective standards that are currently employed, both in practice and throughout the judiciary. When particularly observing the influx of the baby boomers into the realm of Elder Law, this Comment's proposed certification process comes at the ideal time. Addressing these considerations, stricter procedures need to be enacted, and ideally, implemented and overseen by a governing legal association. This will ensure that an attorney for an AD client is able to execute a legally enforceable matter at that precise moment as a means to uphold the client's wishes as well as to protect against an almost certain rise in litigation that surrounds the future of this disease.

August 6, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

New Jersey will Allow Terminally Ill Patients to End Their Lives

PillsNew Jersey joined the increasing number of states that allow terminally ill patients to be provided life-ending medication. Governor Phil Murphy signed the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act in April, and it went into effect this Thursday.

A patient must have a prognosis that they will not live beyond six months because of their disease or condition. Furthermore, a physician or psychiatrist must determine that the patient has the mental capacity to make the decision to end their own life. New Jersey has been attempting to pass the bill since 2014, but this is the first time the bill made it to the Senate, which it narrowly passed.

The jurisdictions that allow physician-assisted suicide are: California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii, Montana and the District of Columbia. At least 19 other states are considering physician-assisted suicide bills.

See Taylor Romine, New Jersey will Allow Terminally Ill Patients to End Their Lives Starting Today, CNN, August 1, 2019.

August 3, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Comment on Losing Your Mind, Losing Your Rights?: A Certification Process to Safeguard Alzheimer's Patients and the Moving Target of the Lucid Interva

AlzKaitlyn C. Meeks recently published a Comment entitled, Losing Your Mind, Losing Your Rights?: A Certification Process to Safeguard Alzheimer's Patients and the Moving Target of the Lucid Interval, 44 U. Dayton L. Rev. 79-109 (2018). Provided below is the introduction to the Comment.

Picture this: you have awakened, on a seemingly normal day, to a drastic lifestyle change -- the care of your mother or father. You, the child, have now become the parent. Why has this happened? One, or perhaps both, of your parents was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease ("AD"), [*80] rendering him or her incapable, in the eyes of the law, of maintaining complete and autonomous control over their life. The child is now the sole caretaker for the parent's health, safety, finances, well-being, and legacy. As the new primary caretaker for an ailing parent, your life has become overwhelmed with legalities -- Power of Attorney Forms, Health Care Directives, and Living Wills and Trusts. These stresses are in addition to the emotional effects as well as the financial and physical demands a caregiver is confronted with on a day-to-day basis.

Will you ever be able to see the parent you once knew again, or will the remainder of your parent's life be surrounded in a cloud of the unknown? And then, with no warning, it is as if nothing but time has changed, and there is a return to your loved one's true self. Yet, with the blink of an eye, the disease takes hold once again, and the moment of lucidity has vanished.

"Your brain is your most powerful organ[.]" However, it is exactly the powerhouse organ which is attacked when a person has a degenerative disease like dementia. Dementia is the collective name for a series of brain disorders which affect cognitive capabilities, generally worsening as time progresses. Alzheimer's disease ("AD") is the most common and prevalent form of dementia. Since AD was first discovered in 1901, our ability to treat and cure the disease has yet to encounter any significant medical breakthroughs.

"Every four seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease." Within the United States, someone develops the disease every sixty-six seconds. According to the 2017 annual report by the Alzheimer's Association, one in ten people over the age of sixty-five are currently living with the disease, and the data projects that the amount of people who will be affected by AD will double within the next thirty years as the baby boomer generation settles into the elderly population. The elderly and "oldest-old" populations are expected to account for nearly 80 million Americans by 2050.

AD primarily affects the elderly; however, the elderly, in general, are an age group which seems to traditionally be excluded from many research benefits, including financial resources. Perhaps this illuminates the reason why one of the most aggressive diseases in today's society has failed to be cured, halted, or even alleviated. While the fight against AD is not stagnant by any means, an inability to proactively address issues stemming from the disease will have adverse effects on numerous professions.

Examining the growth of the disease's prevalence, there is an inevitable chance of correlation affecting the legal system through capacity challenges pertaining to AD patients, both while alive and after death. While areas of capacity, have been argued, discussed, and critiqued throughout the years, it seems that no clear foundation or consensus on how to address these growing issues has been established. Undeniably, without clear visions, capacity issues with AD patients will only worsen, especially when taking into consideration it is not a "one size fits all" kind of disorder.

In consideration of capacity issues for those suffering from AD, brief, spontaneous moments of lucidity sets apart the legal complications of the disease from many other disorders. Both in the medical and legal sense, a lucid interval is defined as "[a] period of sanity intervening periods of insanity[,]" and is measured by its strength, in that "[i]t must be such a full return of his mind to sanity . . . enabling [a person] to understand and transact his affairs as usual." For a person with AD, especially an advanced state of the disease, a lucid interval may be the only time he or she is able to make decisions for him or herself, or to see that his or her wishes in place are being properly executed. Because of this, the lucid interval is a "moving target." There is simply no way to predict a lucid interval, and there is no way to confirm a lucid interval without awareness in the aftermath.

This Comment will examine the increasing importance of a more standardized approach for an attorney to take when counseling an AD patient. First, to set the scene, an in-depth examination of the disease is needed: what AD is, the history of the disease, the unsuccessful attempts to prevent or cure Alzheimer's, and its current and future impact on society and the economy. Second, this Comment will address the current state of AD within the courts. The focus will be on how AD is currently seen in a legal context and how the lucid interval is treated within the judiciary. In addition, a Puerto Rico statute, which seems to balance the rights of freedom to contract with the protections of the patient's current and future estate interests, creates an unattainable objective approach to balancing the lucid interval and AD.

Third, this Comment will examine the conclusions of prior and recent case law to demonstrate how the topic has been construed in various states, focusing on how the application varies within the judiciary. Lastly, the Comment will propose a certification process for attorneys who regularly assist as counsel to AD patients. The proposed course will certify any participating attorney as a "Certified Alzheimer's Legal Specialist" upon successful completion. A Certified Alzheimer's Legal Specialist would best be defined as an attorney who is substantially familiar with the disease itself, can fully comprehend the legal ramifications of the client's desired acts by taking the time to understand the condition as pertaining to the individual client, and can ultimately serve in the prime position to ensure that an individual possesses the requisite capacity mandated under the law. This standardized approach would serve as clear evidence that his or her client was within a lucid interval -- having adequate capacity -- at the time a document was executed. The attorney is then the party that both understands the legal ramifications and how those ramifications benefit the client. This will help to not only protect the rights of an AD patient's autonomy, but will ultimately help eliminate the inevitable flooding of the courts.

It is paramount to maintain objective standards when examining an AD patient's affairs, as opposed to the subjective standards that are currently employed, both in practice and throughout the judiciary. When particularly observing the influx of the baby boomers into the realm of Elder Law, this Comment's proposed certification process comes at the ideal time. Addressing these considerations, stricter procedures need to be enacted, and ideally, implemented and overseen by a governing legal association. This will ensure that an attorney for an AD client is able to execute a legally enforceable matter at that precise moment as a means to uphold the client's wishes as well as to protect against an almost certain rise in litigation that surrounds the future of this disease.

July 25, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Doing These Five Things Could Decrease your Risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%

LeafyApproximately 50 million people have dementia worldwide, and that number is expected to triple by 2050, according to the 2018 World Alzheimer Report. The global cost of dementia in 2018 was roughly $1 trillion, a figure projected to double by 2030. But a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles this past weekend has some crucial suggestions to limit a person's likelihood on developing the condition by 60%.

The  Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed 2,765 individuals over the span of about a decade, tracking their lifestyle and behavior choices. They assessed study participants’ lifestyles on five metrics: their diet, their exercise regimen, whether they smoked, their alcohol consumption and their “engagement in cognitive stimulation activities.” The researchers were expecting positive results for those that made healthier choices, but they were simply "astounded" by the magnitude of the results.  Individuals who ate a “high-quality diet," performed at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, did not smoke, limited themselves to one alcoholic beverage per day, and stimulated their brain two to three times a week were found to develop dementia 60% less than those that did none of these activities, or even just one of them.

The average ages of the participants were between 73 and 81, and contained both males and females as well as blacks and non-Hispanic whites. The study did not find any variances depending on race or gender. 

See Hannah Nattanson, Doing These Five Things Could Decrease your Risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%, New Study Says, Washington Post, July 14, 2019.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

July 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Note on Informed Consent and Decision-Making After Loss of Competency in Dementia Patients: A New Model

AlzLauren Padama recently published a Note entitled, Informed Consent and Decision-Making After Loss of Competency in Dementia Patients: A New Model, 28 S. Cal. Interdisc. L.J, 173-201 (2018). Provided below is an introduction of the Note.

After receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, journalist Greg O'Brien analogized his experience with the disease to a plug in a loose socket. The light from the lamp starts to flicker, so he pushes the plug back in to the socket. It flickers more; Greg now becomes frustrated as he continues to push the plug back in. Eventually, the plug falls out of the socket entirely, and the light is extinguished permanently. This metaphor tracks the progression of Alzheimer's as a typical patient loses his memory and other core cognitive functions. It does not, however, consider that the cognitive decline is typically accompanied by a revocation of medical autonomy.

Most adults are familiar with the myriad forms they are required to sign before receiving medical treatment. These consent forms are designed to reiterate a physician's warning of the risks and benefits of the procedures to ensure that the patient is fully informed before agreeing to the procedure. This basic idea was famously articulated by then Judge Cardozo when he noted, "Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body … ." Since then, every jurisdiction has developed a doctrine of informed consent, which requires the doctor to make a "reasonable disclosure of the available choices with respect to proposed therapy and of the dangers inherently and potentially involved in each." The physician's efforts to apprise the patient of the risks and benefits of the treatment or procedure would, however, be futile if the patient were unable to evaluate the risks and benefits of the procedure and come to an informed decision on whether to accept or reject treatment. Thus, informed consent also requires that the patient have the capacity to consent  to treatment. For patients with Alzheimer's or dementia, the cognitive decline associated with the disease eventually precludes the patient from meeting the medically determined competency standards. This means that the patient can no longer give consent to receive or refuse treatment. The patient is therefore forced to rely on the judgment of the physician or another statutorily approved decision-maker for all medical decisions after loss of capacity.

Informed consent was created to preserve patient autonomy, but dementia effectively revokes a patient's right to consent or decline treatment. A dementia diagnosis is followed by a determination of incompetency at a time when critical treatment decisions are made, such as the decision to administer psychotropic medications. Most decision-makers follow a physician's treatment recommendation, which means psychotropic medications are frequently prescribed to manage symptoms of dementia. When patients refuse, caregivers in both professional and private settings covertly administer medication without the patient's knowledge or consent. 

This article explains the challenges facing both the medical and legal community as the aging population in the United States leads to an inevitable increase in the number of dementia patients. In particular, the variety of accepted instruments used to assess competency has created variability in who is considered incompetent, which forces the patient to rely on statutorily approved methods of decision-making, such as conservators, family members, and advance directives. Since requirements for each vary by jurisdiction, this paper primarily focuses on California law. After discussing the deficiencies with each form of decision-making in the context of concealment of psychotropic medication, this paper explores a new approach to decision-making that focuses on the patient as opposed to the physician's recommendations. The proposed model combines elements of enhanced consent and supported decision-making to create a new method of decision-making. This method of decision-making gives a patient in the early and moderate stages of Alzheimer's more control over her healthcare decisions by forcing decision-makers to communicate directly with the patient instead of assuming the patient's preference. This aims to preserve autonomy in early stages of Alzheimer's by shifting the focus from substituted decision-making to decision-makers actually assisting the patient in deciding whether to accept or reject psychotropic medication and then articulate that choice effectively to the physician.

This paper begins with an overview of dementia and one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for Alzheimer's patients: psychotropic medications. I then discuss informed consent, the right to refuse medication, and assessing capacity both generally and in Alzheimer's patients. After explaining the problems with current competency assessments, I then review the most common methods of decision-making after loss of capacity for Alzheimer's patients as well as alternative methods of decision-making used in other populations. I demonstrate the deficiencies in the statutorily approved methods of decision-making by applying each method to a common real-world problem of medication concealment. Lastly, I illustrate the benefits of utilizing my proposed model, a hybrid of enhanced consent and supported decision-making. This model aims to preserve patient autonomy in the early stages of Alzheimer's while also providing a tool to plan for the later stages of the disease.

July 15, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Alzheimer’s Research is Getting a Reboot at Small Companies Focused on the Immune System

AlzA Colorado health care start-up called Partner Therapeutics is researching an almost 30-year-old leukemia medication and how it can regulate the immune system as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. This change in research trajectory is seen as a result of billions of dollars used in vain by major pharmaceutical companies seeking treatments for the removal of amyloid plaques, an accumulation of debris on brain tissue that is a key sign of Alzheimer’s.

So as bigger companies are backing away from the area, small businesses and start-ups are filling the gap. As of last year, there are only around 70 potential Alzheimer’s therapies in various stages of clinical trials, in addition to 22 remaining amyloid-targeting drugs, according to industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. In comparison, there are roughly 1,100 drugs for cancer, 445 for other neurological diseases, and 200 for heart disease and stroke in development.

Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center are leading a trial of Leukine in 40 Alzheimer’s patients. In mice with Alzheimer’s disease, the same protein contained in Leukine cleared amyloid debris from the brain while also reversing memory loss. But other drugs by bigger companies that showed promise in mice also failed, so there odds may still be long.

See Christopher Rowland, Alzheimer’s Research is Getting a Reboot at Small Companies Focused on the Immune System, Washington Post, July 3, 2019.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 8, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Can an Eye Exam Reveal Alzheimer’s Risk?

EyeA visit to the eye doctor could reveal clues to not only your vision health, but may also someday assist in analyzing the health of your brain. A recent study performed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows links between many forms of eye conditions, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, to an increased risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. One eye condition that does not appear to be linked to Alzheimer's is cataracts, though it is also age-related.

“My view, and one of the possible explanations that the authors present, is that these three eye diseases and Alzheimer’s and dementia have a joined etiology (a common causative factor). All are linked to cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Albert Hofman, chair of epidemiology. The study began in 1994 and involved 5,400 dementia-free adults, following them until they left the study, died, or developed a form of dementia. The study found that people with age-related macular degeneration were 20% more likely to develop dementia compared with people who did not have the eye condition. People with diabetic retinopathy were 44% more likely to develop dementia than those without, and those with a recent glaucoma diagnosis (not an established diagnosis) had a 44% higher rate of dementia.

Though eye exams today may not be able to tell a patient if they have Alzheimer's or dementia, the knowledge that this study brings could enable doctors to focus on preventive measures. “Doing all the things that you would do to prevent heart attack and stroke are likely beneficial to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Hofman. This means treating high blood pressure and cholesterol, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a regular exercise program.

See Kelly Bilodeau, Can an Eye Exam Reveal Alzheimer’s Risk?, Harvard.edu, June 7, 2019.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

June 26, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (2)