Alzheimer’s Care and Elder Law: Finding Support and Guidance
“I always thought of us as relatively young and in good health,” said Betty Strubel of herself and her husband of 26 years, Jim. It was eight years ago, however, when Betty received the news that Jim had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.
“It came on like I am sure it does for other people, very subtly, and it was really hard to define what was happening,” she said.
Shocked and traumatized by the diagnosis, Betty also experienced feelings of frustration when trying to find the best resource to guide her through this challenging transition. Fortunately, she had a small support network that included her nearby sister Peg, her doctor and Mindy Felinton, an elder law attorney.
For years, Betty was able to care for Jim in their home, but she eventually needed to hire in-home caregivers in order to continue her career with Montgomery County Public Schools. Last summer, as she was getting ready to take her two-week vacation, she realized she was at a crossroad with his care. “His needs had gotten so great,” she said.
Since their townhouse was not a suitable arrangement, she reluctantly accepted that instead of hiring a full-time caregiver, the best option was a specialty care center for those with Alzheimer’s and Memory Care needs.
The financial burden of this choice, however, would be prohibitive based on the couple’s income and savings. Betty realized she would need to immediately apply for Medicaid and gather all of the supporting documentation. Her doctor then referred her to Mindy Felinton.
“Mindy gave me the best news I had received in eight years,” said Betty. “She assured me she would be the one to advocate for me and actually make this application come to fruition.”
With her knowledge and experience, Mindy was able to provide Betty with choices and a strategy to protect some of the couple’s assets and ensure they would still qualify for Medicaid. “For the average person, going through this application process alone is a very daunting task,” said Mindy.
The entire process from application to approval took approximately four months, and Betty got Jim into the Wilson Health Center at Asbury Methodist Village near her home and office, which has given her peace of mind.
Seeing her sister’s situation has actually prompted Peg and her husband to better organize their records and think about their future, but both women have learned there are experienced professionals that can lend a helping hand in unexpected and difficult times.