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Planning for the future: ideas and technologies for aging in place

By Mark Gilfix

As more Baby Boomers reach their senior years, more policymakers and elder health advocates are turning their attention to the issues behind aging in place.

Overwhelmingly, research shows that older Americans would prefer to age at home or in other noninstitutional settings. But for aging in place to really work, a number of preparations must be made. An urgent health event can make staying at home impossible because of financial issues or practical concerns that cannot be remedied quickly enough.

According to Forbes Magazine, experts suggest that people who wish to age in their own residences begin preparing in their 50s and early 60s. Their preparations should include financial planning and possible home remodels that incorporate universal access design principles.

But thanks to technology, even families with members already in their 70s, 80s and 90s can take immediate steps to make life at home safer.

Philips has created a medication dispensing device that can be pre-loaded with up to 40 days' worth of medication. The device gives verbal alerts when it is time for a dose, and it can telephone family members when a dose is missed. The system feeds data into an online portal that seniors and family members can view.

According to the American Association of Retired People (AARP), wearable health monitors are losing their “device stigma” as young people adopt wearables to track their own health. Companies like Lively are making devices that combine the cool of high-tech wearables with the functionality seniors need, including panic buttons, medication reminders and activity monitors.

For those willing to invest more, companies like GrandCare offer comprehensive systems that digitally connect a range of medical devices and activity detectors. GrandCare’s online health dashboard includes health data as well as video chat and shared calendars. Experts hope that systems such as these will one day eliminate the need for nursing homes or intensive in-home assistance in many cases.

Even with emerging technology, mindful financial planning and practical preparation of a residence still form the true foundation of a long-term ability to remain at home. An estate planning attorney - like those at Gilfix and La Poll Associates - can help families navigate planning issues, such as asset preservation for Medi-Cal eligibility. These and other planning tools can help families achieve peace of mind for the future.

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Thank you to all attendees of our very successful seminars

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Gilfix and La Poll associates would like to thank the attendees of our very successful seminars about estate planning and long term care in Palo Alto on October 14th. Our audiences were large and highly engaged, and they asked great questions.

We are hopeful and confident that they got highly valuable information that will serve them and their families well. The subjects we covered help to provide peace of mind and can save families hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

We received some wonderful comments from attendees...

"Great seminar!"

Susie from Hayward, CA

"Excellent and an eye opening presentation."

Tony from San Jose, CA

Missed our seminar?

Keep an eye out for upcoming seminars, or contact us if you have any questions about your own estate planning or long term care questions or issues.

For a second or third marriage, make estate planning part of wedding planning

When daily discussions revolve around flowers, music and cake, it may seem unromantic to bring up estate planning. But if you consider renewed estate planning as a way for you and your future spouse to bring old estate plans into harmony with your new hopes for your future family, it can seem a lot more pleasant -- and a lot more important.

Engaged couples often choose to review an estate plan when children are involved. There may be children on one or both sides, and there may be future children planned or on the way. Depending on the assets involved, there are a number of ways an estate planning attorney can revise old trusts or set up new ones to help both parties rest assured that all children and the surviving spouse will be cared for under the estate.

In light of a new marriage, spouses may also wish to review estate plans to consider real estate. One spouse may wish to leave a previously held property to his or her children from a prior relationship. However, that person would want his or her surviving spouse to be able to live in it until the surviving spouse’s death. In this case, there are multiple options, each with benefits and drawbacks. The couple should review them with an estate planning attorney.

Second or third marriages also bring up tax issues. Previous or deceased spouses may affect a person's gift tax exclusions or other estate tax exemptions, and the rules can be complicated. It is important to make future plans in full knowledge of future tax consequences.

Finally, and most pragmatically, all engaged couples should review power of attorney documents and advance health care directives to ensure that all documents are up to date.

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Two new studies of Alzheimer’s disease deliver promising results

Two new studies show progress toward producing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and discovering its causes.

A new study from the Yale School of Medicine has announced a major step forward in the push to find a drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Yale researchers have created a drug that reverses cognitive defects caused by Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

The drug inhibits the activity of a protein known as STEP, which is highly associated with a number of degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s. For years, researchers have been trying to discover a drug that would inhibit STEP activity in the brain.

The authors of the Yale study caution that what works for mice does not always work for humans, but they are encouraged nonetheless. The lead researcher, Dr. Paul Lombroso, told Newsweek that it was not only exciting to discover a drug that inhibits STEP, but also to realize that the inhibition of STEP activity may be enough to reverse the course of Alzheimer’s.

The New York Times has taken note of another new study suggesting a strong link between vitamin D levels and Alzheimer’s and dementia risk. According to the new study, those with low levels of vitamin D are more than 50 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and those with very low levels of vitamin D were two times again more likely.

The study does not show vitamin D deficiency to be a cause of degenerative brain disease, so as of now, vitamin D supplements have not been shown to have a preventative effect. Nonetheless, this discovery will help researchers get closer to the underlying conditions that give rise to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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