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Top 5 Myths about Dementia-Related Legal Issues

The Alzheimer’s Alliance, thanks to a generous grant from the Smith County Bar Association, is putting together a legal guide for families of loved ones with dementia. Here is a sneak peek! Below are some of the most common myths people with dementia might believe, according to Kline Pillow, board member for the Alliance and elder law attorney with Ross and Shoalmire Elder Law Attorneys.

1. Myth: "My health insurance will pay for long-term care."

Fact: Your health insurance does not cover long-term care such as skilled nursing, memory care, assisted living or in-home caregiving. Medicare can cover short-term rehab but there are only three ways to pay for long-term care: long-term care insurance, private pay out-of-pocket, or benefit assistance programs.

2. Myth: "I cannot get benefit assistance before I go broke."

Fact: Benefit assistance program such as Medicaid have income and asset limits for eligibility. While it is a common belief that these benefits are only available to the indigent, these benefits are a lot more accessible than most believe. With proper planning and advice, you can access to these benefits necessary for your long-term care while still preserving income and assets for you and your family.

3. Myth: "I have been diagnosed with dementia so it is too late to plan."

Fact: A diagnosis of Alzheimer's or another dementia in and of itself does not mean that you are legally incapacitated. People diagnosed early often still have the capacity to do legal planning. As the disease progresses, capacity diminishes so it is important to seek legal advice early in the process.

4. Myth: "I have a will and that is all I need."

Fact: A will does little to nothing to protect during incapacity. In fact, a will legally means nothing until you die. Powers of Attorney and Trusts are much more effective legal tools for a person living with dementia. These documents are necessary for managing your healthcare, finances and every day business during incapacity.

5. Myth: "I will lose my home if I go to a nursing home."

Fact: You will never be forced to sell your home to access benefit assistance for long-term care. If you do access benefit assistance for long-term care, the State, not the nursing home, may have a claim against your estate after you die and that can include your home. However, with proper planning, you can access benefit assistance and protect and preserve your home.

Have other questions about issues associated with dementia? Contact the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County at 903-509-8323 or email