Yikes! Our Top 10 Scariest Articles of 2018

Believe it or not, in Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Special Needs Planning, there are some news stories that sound more like the scary plots of horror movies than real life. The topics can be so horrifying that suddenly, you need to turn on all the lights just to read the news stories and do double takes as you pass by windows.

Halloween is tomorrow, so it’s the ideal day to present you with this year’s scariest articles. From caregivers being deported to hearing loss contributing to dementia, we uncovered some scary ground. To celebrate Halloween, we’ve ranked our scariest articles from least to most scary (but you be the judge) for you to revisit, if you are bold enough to do so. As always, thank you for reading our newsletter and blog!

Note to our readers: if you’re someone who doesn’t like thinking about scary topics, such as spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on long-term care, then you might want to stop reading or proceed with caution. But if you’re curious, please read on. . .

10. “Can You Die from a Broken Heart?” It sounds scary, and even sad, but yes, you can! Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or Broken Heart Syndrome, is actually a real thing, and it occurs when an emotional stressor is so severe that it actually causes physical damage to the heart. The ailment was first discovered in 1990 in Japan, when doctors discovered that those experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack after the loss of a loved one later showed no signs of the signature blood clots indicating that someone had a heart attack.

9. “What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C.?” While having a Will is slightly better than dying without a Will (i.e., dying intestate), Wills also have some major drawbacks – the biggest drawback being that a Will causes your estate to go through probate. Now that’s really scary (and time consuming, public, and expensive!)

8. “What If Mom’s Home Health Aide Gets Deported?” It could happen to 59,000 Haitians, El Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and others with permission to work and live in the U.S. after natural disasters devastated their countries, and this could cause a serious shortage in health care aides. In this article, a senior who needs a lot of assistance has had the same home health aide for 5 years. Her aide, who fled here from Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake, bathes her, dresses her, feeds her, and takes her to the grocery store, and is among many in danger of deportation.

7. In “When Caregiver Stress Becomes Extreme,” Rae (84) was the primary caregiver for Leo, who suffers from dementia. Leo would wander, so Rae couldn’t leave him alone. Rae became resentful and depressed because she had to forego her dreams of world travel and didn’t even spend time with friends anymore. She became so stressed about her situation that she attempted suicide. Rae did not leave a note, but later stated that she fully intended to kill herself. While recovering in the hospital, Rae expressed relief at not having caregiver responsibilities.

6. Does hearing loss contribute to dementia? In ”Ignoring Hearing Loss Can Dramatically Increase Likelihood of Dementia,” we discuss a recent study where Johns Hopkins followed 639 adults for almost 12 years and discovered that people with mild hearing loss had double the dementia risk; those with moderate hearing loss had triple the risk; and those with severe hearing impairment were 5 times more likely to develop dementia. Even those with MILD hearing loss have double the risk of developing dementia. The worse your hearing loss, the higher your risk of dementia. This should be a wake-up call to anyone who chooses to ignore their hearing problems.

5. In “Is Suicide a “Rational” Option for Seniors?,” a seemingly content and healthy man took his life, and his family knew it was going to happen and was okay with him doing it. Robert Shoots was a retired house painter who was happily remarried and enjoyed good health. He went fishing and played golf often, showing no signs of depression or other mental illness. One March morning, Shoots ran a tube from the tailpipe of his beloved old Chrysler to the front seat, where he sat with a bottle of Wild Turkey. He was 80. Shoots’ daughter was not surprised about his suicide when she found him dead in his garage, but just wished he could’ve said a satisfying goodbye to him.

4. In “Can They Kick Her Out of Assisted Living?,” Jeff Regan received a shocking phone call from Atria Assisted Living to inform him that his aunt, Marilou Jones (94) who has dementia, was being evicted. Across the country, assisted living facilities are evicting residents who have grown older and frail because they can no longer take care of them appropriately, and this happens more often than you think (Last year alone, there were 2,867 complaints of this kind by long-term care ombudsmen across the U.S.).

3. In “Navigating an End-of-life Rally,” an advanced Alzheimer’s patient was in hospice care and didn’t have much time. One day, to the shock of his family he started talking about current events and sports, his favorite things to discuss, and asked his daughter for his favorite dinner and dessert. His family was completely shocked and convinced that he made a miraculous recovery, since he was back to himself again, and that his Alzheimer’s was “gone.” Sadly, within the next few days, he took a turn for the worst and died. How could this have happened?

2. “Is Medicare Going Broke?” Now, that’s a scary thought! Since its release, the Medicare Trustees Report has triggered some pretty alarming headlines, such “Medicare to go broke three years earlier than expected, trustees say,” from Politico. In addition, dozens of news reports have aired about Medicare’s worsening financial outlook. But, is Medicare really going broke?

1. In ”Shocking New Study: Alzheimer’s Found in Children and Linked to Air Pollution,” a new study found shocking evidence to suggest that Alzheimer’s can begin in childhood, with babies younger than a year old displaying signs of the disease. The research emphasized that earlier intervention is necessary to prevent the disease and addressing air pollution may play a key role in preventing it.

If all those articles weren’t enough, do you want to hear something really scary? Nursing homes in DC and Northern Virginia cost $10,000-$14,000 a month, an amount that will quickly wipe out all of the money you have worked your entire life to earn — if you don’t properly prepare for long-term care.

If you are now officially freaked out, and if you or a loved one has not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning, or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), please call us to make an appointment for a consultation:

Elder Law Fairfax, VA: 703-691-1888
Elder Law Fredericksburg, VA: 540-479-1435
Elder Law Rockville, MD: 301-519-8041
Elder Law Washington, DC: 202-587-2797

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.