Westchester County Elder Law Attorney Anthony J. Enea Offers Insights on Assisting Clients with Diminished Capacity

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According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s and, by 2050, the number could rise as high as 16 million. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. recently addressed common signs of diminished capacity and the legal and ethical implications involved at an education program for the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).

Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, member, Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP

Common signs of diminished cognitive ability include short-term memory loss, difficulty finding the correct words, speaking in a vague or disorganized manner, lack of mental flexibility, and trouble comprehending and following a logical path.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s and, by 2050, the number could rise as high as 16 million. Along with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia comes the complex question of mental capacity. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. recently addressed common signs of diminished capacity and the legal and ethical implications involved at an education program for the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).

“Mitigating Bias: A Focus on Clients with Capacity Concerns” marks the latest speaking engagement for Anthony Enea, who has spent more than 30 years protecting the rights of seniors, the disabled and their families. The program was sponsored by the NYSBA’s Elder Law and Special Needs Section and the Committee on Continuing Legal Education.

“As an elder law attorney, I determine my clients’ legal capacity with cognitive, behavioral and emotional assessments on a regular basis,” said Enea. “Common signs of diminished cognitive ability include short-term memory loss, difficulty finding the correct words, speaking in a vague or disorganized manner, lack of mental flexibility, and trouble comprehending and following a logical path. Another red flag is disorientation with reality – not knowing where they are or what they’re doing. It is also important to pay attention to emotional reactions and note if your loved one isn’t showing appropriate emotions in everyday situations.”

A person’s demeanor, body language, dress and appearance may also be clues to a possible capacity issue. “Behavioral signs of incapacity can range from poor grooming and hygiene such as soiled clothing or not being dressed appropriately to delusions and hallucinations,” Enea noted. “Uncharacteristic confusion about basic instructions, repeating tasks, and difficulty recalling past decisions are often early signs of diminished capacity.”

If diminished capacity is suspected, it’s better to act sooner rather than later. Seek professional help from your loved one’s doctors, a social worker experienced with older adults, and/or a geriatric care manager. From a legal perspective, Enea emphasizes the importance of planning early – before diminished capacity is present.

“Advanced planning is essential now more than ever. A proactive approach often consists of executing a combination of documents that include a Durable Power of Attorney with broad powers, an Irrevocable Trust funded with one’s home and a portion of one’s liquid assets, advance directives such as a Health Care Proxy and HIPPA form, and a Revocable Living Trust to allow continuity of management of one’s assets in the event of incapacity.”

A strong leader in Westchester’s legal community, Mr. Enea is president of the Westchester County Bar Foundation, a past president of the Westchester County Bar Association, and a past chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section. He was named Westchester County’s Leading Elder Care Attorney at the Above the Bar Awards and Best Lawyers’ 2018 Elder Law “Lawyer of the Year” in White Plains. Mr. Enea’s practice areas include elder law; Medicaid asset protection trusts; Medicaid applications (home care and nursing home); special needs planning; guardianships (Article 81 and 17-A); and wills, trusts and estates.

Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is located at 245 Main Street in White Plains, N.Y. with additional offices in Somers, N.Y. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea can be reached at 914-948-1500 or a.enea@esslawfirm.com. For the latest news, visit Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano online at http://www.esslawfirm.com.

About Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is an AV preeminent rated elder law firm with offices in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. The practice concentrates on Elder Law; Medicaid Planning; Nursing Home and Home Care Applications; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships; Estate Litigation; Supplemental Needs Trusts; and Special Needs Planning. Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP serves Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Queens and is committed to providing the highest quality legal services to seniors, the disabled and their families. Visit the firm online at http://www.esslawfirm.com and http://www.westchesterseniors.com.

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