Most estate planning attorneys consider themselves to be experts in the larger specialty of elder law, and it is indeed a rapidly burgeoning legal niche. Many people are surprised when they hear that senior citizens are the fastest-growing segment of the society in the United States. But they are even more stunned when they hear just how fast the senior population is growing. It is estimated that the number of seniors in America will double by 2030. Some 10,000 Americans are applying for Social Security for the first time each and every day.
If you look a bit closer the numbers get more surprising. Elders who have reached the age of 85 and older are the most rapidly growing segment of senior citizens. Among other things, this means that it is becoming increasingly likely that you will live into your mid to late 80s and beyond.
The Alzheimer’s Association recently released a study that put the disease and its impact on American society under a microscope. Dementia is a condition that prevents people from being able to handle their routine day-to-day responsibilities due to a reduction in memory and cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s is the cause of between 60%-80% of the dementia cases in the United States.
The study, which was released in 2010, states that there are 5.3 million Alzheimer’s sufferers in America. 5.1 million of these people are senior citizens. The highest concentration is among seniors who are at least 85 years old; 40% of these people have Alzheimer’s disease.
When you combine these factors, two things become clear: People are living longer, and the longer you live the more likely it is that you will contract Alzheimer’s disease.
This dynamic makes incapacity planning essential for anyone who is preparing for the eventualities of aging. If you have not discussed such a plan with your elder law attorney, now is the time. Alzheimer’s disease is a very real possibility that is something that everyone should take into consideration when they are making preparations for their twilight years.