Divorce As A Risk Factor For Dementia
Divorce or separation should be viewed as a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimers disease, which is the most common form of the condition. Alzheimers currently affects 5.8 million Americans, and it is the 6th leading cause of death in the nation. And the numbers keep rising.
Loneliness may be a contributing factor. Being separated from a spouse can increase a sense of loneliness, which can have a major impact on mental well-being. Unfortunately, one-third of seniors between the ages of 50 and 80 say they feel a lack of companionship, and 25 percent of them feel socially isolated, according to a 2018 University of Michigan poll. For seniors, living alone was associated with feelings of loneliness, with 41% of solo dwellers reporting feeling isolated.
The loneliest among us experience cognitive decline 20 percent faster than people who are connected to others, and loneliness has been associated with depression, social anxiety, addictions, even hoarding.
Dementia Divorce And Incompetency To Stand Trial
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We have all heard the phrase not guilty by reason of insanity. Most of us have at some point used the phrase insanity defense jokingly when talking about what wed like to do to someone who has offended us. Likewise, a criminal defendant can be found incompetent to stand trial, which means that they are so mentally impaired that they cant meaningfully participate in their own trial. Defendants have a constitutional right to a fair trial and it isnt fair to make them defend themselves when they dont understand what is going on. As a criminal defense lawyer, I know what to do when a defendant doesnt seem to be able to help in his own defense, or if they were truly delusional at the time of the alleged crime. We get a psychiatric evaluation and expert opinion, and follow established procedure.
Unfortunately, it isnt so easy when you are in a civil situation. In Georgia, where I live, there is no law that prevents people who are impaired even ones who have been adjudicated by a court to be incompetent from filing suit or defending suit. For example, you can sue someone with full blown dementia, and they are somehow supposed to defend that suit.
These are not easy questions and there are no easy answers. I will be following the Kentucky case to see where they land.
Your Spouses Power Of Attorney
You and your spouse probably have an estate plan. If you have a legally valid , you can typically make legal and financial decisions on your spouses behalf. During a divorce, though, there is an automatic conflict of interest. Consequently, your spouses power of attorney likely does not allow you to manage his or her divorce interests.
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A doctor will perform a physical exam to evaluate your mental processes. He or she will also ask you about any medications youre currently taking and any stressful situations youre facing. Your memory loss provider may also ask you about your symptoms and ask you to take notes on how youre feeling. The doctor may recommend that you get an appointment with a neuropsychologist. A neuropsychologist can help you figure out the best way to treat your memory loss.
A doctor will conduct a physical exam to determine the exact cause of your memory loss. He or she will also ask you about your medical history and whether youve experienced other forms of memory loss. After your medical history, your provider will discuss your options for treatment. If youre experiencing severe symptoms of memory loss, you should seek out a professional. It will help you get the right kind of care for your specific situation. So, take action today.
A healthcare provider will perform a physical exam to assess the condition of your memory. He or she will ask you about your family and friends and any medications youre taking. Once he or she has established the root cause, a proper treatment will be given. If you have a mild form of memory loss, you can still function independently and perform everyday tasks. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to see a medical professional.
Divorcing A Spouse With Dementia Or Other Cognitive Impairment
Any major health issue can place a significant burden on a marriage, but dementia, Alzheimers, and other cognitive impairments are particularly difficult to handle. These conditions often make the sufferer unpredictable, sometimes violent, and eventually uncommunicative. The situation may become too much for either spouse, and divorce may become an unfortunate, but necessary option. However, given the sensitive nature of one spouses health, how does the other spouse properly handle the end of the relationship, and when is it permissible to move on? Further, how does the legal process view a mental impairment in the context of divorce? Parties to any legal proceeding or transaction must be able to understand the nature of what is happening and meaningfully participate, but dementia can hinder a persons ability to do either. In the case of a spouse with dementia, the question becomes how to protect his/her interests and the right of the other spouse to seek an end to the marriage? Florida, being a popular place for retirees to live, sees more residents facing this complex issue compared to other States. Consequently, exploring a few different issues related to divorcing a spouse with dementia or another cognitive impairment could be beneficial to many, and will be discussed below.
What If the Spouse Filing for Divorce Already Has a Guardian?
Mental Incapacity as Grounds for Divorce
Consult a Divorce Attorney
by Lynette Silon-Laguna
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What You Need To Know When Divorcing A Spouse With Alzheimer’s
Getting a divorce is a difficult decision under any circumstances. However, if one spouse has Alzheimer’s, that adds even more stress to the scenario. In many cases, the healthy spouse may feel like the marriage is over, since the other spouses personality or behavior has changed. If dementia is a factor in your Illinois divorce, you should contact a skilled family law attorney to help you understand the legal aspects of your situation.
Atemporary Spousal Support The Launching Point
California has long recognized two types of spousal support and our judges and justices have applied slightly different standards and rules about how to determine each:“Temporary” or “pendente lite” spousal support and“permanent” or “judgment” spousal support. Temporary spousal support is determined one way, and judgment spousal support another. Temporary spousal support is essentially what a court may order until the community property has all been divided equally according to marital balance sheet, in the form of a Judgment at the end of the case. Once that occurs, we enter the zone of “judgment” spousal support. Dementia cases may be treated differently depending upon whether the issue is temporary or judgment spousal support. I will develop the judgment spousal support themes as this series evolves – for now I am mostly concerned with analyzing pendente lite support issues and arguments.
Predictability is imperative to the efficient and fair administration of justice, not only so that people are treated uniformly throughout the State, but in order for lawyers – as deal-makers – to know what to expect and how to set their client’s expectations. And family law litigation was so much cheaper then than it has become today. Having an idea what amount in spousal support is likely to be ordered in any given case is critical to lowering risks for clients as well as their fees, at least for responsible and competent family law attorneys.
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Ioverview Of The Dementia/alzheimers Basics
A.What is Alzheimers?
Alois Alzheimer was a German neurologist who is credited with first identifying the disease in 1906. Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers . On that basis he developed a hypothesis that resonates today in a very large way. Current science concerning the etiology of Alzheimers disease is beyond the scope of this article, and probably not relevant to our task.
The National Institute on Aging , a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, describes the disease process as follows:
Alzheimers is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people.
Whether Alzheimers is the 6th leading case of death in the United States, or as other estimates suggest the 3rd overall, the bean counters maintain that one in three seniors presently die from Alzheimers. Therefore, for many death from old age equals death from this terrible disease.
- Adult Day Care
Dont Forget The Children And Teens
With so much focus on the person who has dementia, sometimes younger family members donât get the attention they need, or the illness is not explained in a way they can understand.
Children often experience a wide range of emotions when a parent or grandparent has Alzheimerâs disease. Younger children may be fearful that they will get the disease or that they did something to cause it. Teenagers may become resentful if they must take on more responsibilities or feel embarrassed that their parent or grandparent is âdifferent.â College-bound children may be reluctant to leave home.
Reassure young children that they cannot âcatchâ the disease from you. Be straightforward about personality and behaviour changes. For example, the person with Alzheimerâs may forget things, such as their names, and say and do things that may embarrass them. Assure them that this is not their fault or intentional, but a result of the disease.
Find out what their emotional needs are and find ways to support them, such as meeting with a counsellor who specializes in children with a family member diagnosed with Alzheimerâs disease. School social workers and teachers can be notified about what the children may be experiencing and be given information about the disease. Encourage children and teens to attend support group meetings, and include them in counselling sessions.
Here are some examples that might help you cope with role changes within the family:
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Divorcing An Alzheimers Patient
Are you married to someone who requires care beyond your capacity to give? If you are living with someone suffering from Alzheimers Disease, you may feel overwhelmed. This degenerative disease has changed your loved one into someone you no longer recognize. The once loving, calm, and caring individual you shared your life with has become forgetful. Angry, and even violent with you. You want to get out of the marriage but you are overwhelmed with guilt. What should you do?
When a person lives in fear of their spouse, it is only natural to want an escape. Maryland allows for divorce on the grounds of insanity, but the criteria is pretty stiff:
- The patient must be confined in an institution for three years prior to filing for divorce
- Two physicians must testify as to the irreversibility of the condition
- One of the spouses must have been a resident for at least two years prior to filing for divorce.
Its possible the court will appoint a guardian in order to look out for the best interests of the patient in the event a divorce occurs. Considerations regarding the patients care will be paramount moving forward. Ultimately, it is possible to get the divorce, but not without a lot of time, consideration, paperwork, and decision making.
Compassionate Legal Advice
Contact A Dupage County Gray Divorce Attorney
If you or your spouse is affected by dementia, or either of you suspects this devastating syndrome is pervading your daily life together, please contact your doctor immediately. If it ever gets to be too difficult for you or your spouse, and it is clearly time to move on, reach out to the compassionate team at Goostree Law Group for a free consultation. Our dedicated will assist you with the legal proceedings during this emotional time. Call us today at 630-634-5050 to schedule your confidential appointment.
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Can A Person With Dementia Get Divorced
If you are unable to make some decisions and you have not made plans about this in advance, the Mental Capacity Act allows someone else to decide what should happen.However, some types of decision can never be made by another person on your behalf, whether or not you lack mental capacity. These include decisions about marriage or civil partnership, divorce, sexual relationships, adoption and voting.In contrast, decisions regarding compulsory detention and treatment for a mental disorder can be made without consent, whether or not someone has capacity, under the Mental Health Act 1983. The Mental Capacity Act therefore does not cover these decisions.
Dementia And Its Impacts Upon Individuals And Couples In Divorce
Many family law attorneys have witnessed the challenges faced by elderly people suffering from dementia. Often our introduction began with our aging parents, or their siblings. These persons may have been our mothers, or fathers. As the statistics outlined below demonstrate, this disease-based extinction of self is more than an existential threat to each of us. It may be a matter of the odds. And its ravages are heartbreaking: Alzheimers disease is nothing if not intimately personal, and outrageously expensive.
The number of dementia-disabled adults with cases pending in family law court will expand as the Baby Boomer cohort marches on. The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age groups share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent. Among those aged 65 and older the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990, reaching six people per 1,000 married persons in 2015. Although these increasing rates leveled out in 2008, the statistics indisputably imply that more of such people, on either side of the aisle, will need our help.
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Should I Consider A Divorce If My Spouse Is Diagnosed With Dementia
Thinking about getting a divorce in the twilight of your years, or a is difficult enough, but having to consider such an option due to the negative effects of dementia brings with it another set of challenges. If you are the one watching your loved one decline mentally, you will probably struggle as the person you have been devoted to for so many years disappears before your eyes. How could you ever abandon this person, though, especially now, when your loved one is at his or her most vulnerable? If you consider dementias effect on the person diagnosed and, in turn, how that changes the dynamics of your relationship, you might realize that a divorce might be your best option.
Can A Person In Florida With Alzheimer’s Or Dementia File For Divorce
In Florida, with a large number of elderly retirees, this is a common issue. However, its also legally tricky.
Some individuals with Alzheimers disease or dementia who want a divorce can file. Just because a person has been diagnosed does not mean they are mentally incompetent yet.
If a person who has been diagnosed with one of those diseases files for divorce and he or she is able to communicate during the procedure and make sound decisions, the divorce should not be any different than any other persons divorce.
However, if a person has been diagnosed with Alzheimers or dementia and is starting to show serious signs of mental issues related to the disease, divorce can be harder. In order to sue for divorce, a person must be mentally competent.
In many cases involving a person with Alzheimers or dementia who is starting to slip, a loved one will step in and ask the probate court to declare the individual as incapacitated, and to appoint a guardian.
This is called a guardianship proceeding. A guardianship takes away the legal rights of the individual whom is declared incapacitated.
In most cases, if a guardian is appointed, the incapacitated individual loses his or her right to sue, including for divorce.
However, the guardian may be able to sue for divorce on the individuals behalf.
One quirk in Florida law is that if a person has been declared incapacitated, there is a three year waiting period before the individual can be divorced.
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Is It Okay To Divorce A Spouse With Alzheimers
I was surprised this week when I read about the comments Pat Robertson made about divorce and Alzheimers on The 700 Club. On Tuesday, in a segment where he answers questions from viewers, he was asked the following question:
I have a friend whose wife suffers from Alzheimers. She doesnt even recognize him anymore and, as you can imagine, the marriage has been rough. My friend has gotten bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition, and hes started seeing another woman. He says that he should be allowed to see other people because his wife as he knows her is gone Im not quite sure what to tell him. Please help.
Robertson obviously felt a lot of compassion for the man. I hate Alzheimers, he said. It is one of the most awful things, because heres the loved one, the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly that person is gone, theyre gone. They are gone.
The next words were disappointing and controversial: I know it sounds cruel, but if hes going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but, to make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.
His co-host broke in and asked, But isnt that the vow that we take when we marry someone, that its for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer ?
The importance of your wedding vows
No matter what ever happens to you, there are two things you need to know: First, God will never leave you or forsake you. And second, neither will I.