Aug 23, 2011

Famed basketball coach wakes world to the reality of early-onset Alzheimer's

Pat Summitt, the high-powered coach of the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team, knew something was wrong. After experiencing a number of memory lapses, she finally consulted the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, who delivered the news:  Alzheimer's Disease. With five million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's and related dementias, the diagnosis is not rare. What made Summit's diagnosis so startling is her age. She's just 59.
Most Americans think that Alzheimer's Disease is a disease of the elderly, and for the most part that's true. However, the Alzheimer's Association states that about 5% of affected individuals develop the disease before their 65th birthday. The disease is devastating at any age, but seems even more unfair when it affects a younger person. It also presents additional emotional, financial and legal complications since the individual may still be working and raising children. The cost of care can be staggering. Where to turn?

Fortunately, last year the Social Security administration officially recognized Early-Onset Alzheimer's as a qualifying condition for its Compassionate Allowances Initiative. This means expedited processing of applications for those with the condition who apply for SSI or SSDI. Supplemental Security Income is for individuals who are disabled and have limited income and assets. Social Security Disability Income is for working people under the age of 65.

We wish Summitt well. At last report, she said she will continue to coach as long as she is able, which we hope will be a very long time.

Read more about  the Social Security Administration's compassionate allowance program.
Read more about Pat Summitt here.
To contact a Florida elder law attorney to investigate how to pay for long-term care for Alzheimer's disease or another chronic disability, click here.

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