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Alzheimer’s at 59? Tucson Attorney Asks, "What Would You Do?"

Pat Summit, Women's Basketball Coach, Alzheimer's DiseaseThis week, Pat Summitt, the head women’s basketball coach at Tennessee, and the coach with the most wins in college basketball history, announced she is stepping down. Ten months ago, Pat was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. After 38 years as head coach, Pat will continue to be involved with the Lady Vols basketball program as “head coach emeritus,” but has officially turned over the coaching responsibilities to her long-time assistant coach.

So, what’s in store for Pat and her family as they deal with Alzheimer’s? That’s hard to tell, but there are a few things that are certain. First, Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition, which means Pat’s condition will worsen over time. Already, Alzheimer’s has affected Pat’s personal and professional life: Where she was once able to manage the high pressure and quickly changing responsibilities on game day, Alzheimer’s has made it impossible for her to function in that responsibility. In the future, she will most likely need assistance with even some of her day to day activities, such as dressing and bathing, preparing her food, and managing her finances.

Second, Pat fortunately has a strong support system of family and loved ones who are able to help as needed. Unlike many Americans, she also has the financial resources to pay for the services and assistance that her family and friends can’t provide.  Those of us without those funds need to find other resources to cover the expensive costs of long-term care.

Early onset Alzheimer’s makes up approximately five percent of those 4 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. What if you, or someone you love, were part of that 4 million? Are you prepared?

You can start preparing now by going through the questions listed below.  Take the time to thoughtfully answer each question, and share your answers with your family. If you find the answers lacking, start today to find the resources and assistance you may need in the coming months and years.

  1. Am I being treated by a physician who is knowledgeable about Alzheimer’s disease and who treats me and not my disease?
  2. Do I have a supportive network of family members and/or friends who are willing and able to assist me with managing my personal, legal and financial matters?
  3. Have I arranged for someone to have the legal authority to manage my personal needs and care once I am no longer able to make those decisions?
  4. Do my family members know my desires regarding care treatment that I do or do not want as my disease progresses?
  5. Do my family members know what resources are available in my community to help them manage my care and allow me to have the best quality of life?
  6. Have I made arrangements for someone to have the legal authority to handle my financial affairs without costly and difficult court intervention?
  7. Do I have the financial resources to pay for my care without depriving my family of resources they need?
  8. Have I planned for family members to take advantage of all resources, public and private, which will help provide and pay for services I will need through the progress of my disease?
  9. Do I have contingency plans in case the people I depend on for care are unable or unwilling to help when needed?

At Morris Hall, our hope is that you will never know the pain and uncertainty that comes when you or a loved one are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or any of the other debilitating chronic diseases. We know the reality is that many of our clients and their families will have to face these serious medical conditions head on. That is why we have experienced elder law attorneys, case managers and other professionals with years of experience helping clients and their families navigate the complex maze of legal, social, financial, medical and personal choices that will inevitably arise. Talk to us if you have questions or need direction, but don’t wait. Start preparing today!


What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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