Alzheimer’s Care – Signs That Memory Care Is Needed

As we age, our memory often changes. Our ability to recall information or remember life events may be increasingly difficult at times. The difference in age-related memory changes and the beginning signs of dementia may be difficult for a lay-person to distinguish. Alzheimer’s is a medical condition worsening over time. The progression of the disease is generally a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. In this article, we will discuss the signs of Alzheimer’s, memory care facilities, and when Alzheimer’s care or memory care may be recommended by experts.

*This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The use of the Paths Law Firm website does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

In the United States, more than 5 million people, of all ages, are living with Alzheimer’s. This number is projected to almost triple by 2050. For more Facts and Figures about Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.

What Is Memory Care?

Memory care is specialized care for individuals having Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, memory or cognitive decline. Facilities or communities with Alzheimer’s or memory care units provide safe, secure, and structured environments where staff can more closely monitor residents. They also provide activities, programs, and events designed to help strengthen or slow the decline of a resident’s cognitive abilities.

Care Provided at a Memory Care Facility

Memory care facilities are designed specifically for individuals who suffer from progressive conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Even though the family of the senior may provide compassionate and loving care at home, Alzheimer’s and dementia require specialized care from highly trained and experienced caregivers. A memory care facility will provide the necessary care for your senior to enjoy his/her life as well as personal care assistance to help your loved one stay on track. The staff of a memory care facility is specially trained to provide the necessary care needed for seniors suffering from memory loss. We should also remember the toll care takes on the family members when not taking advantage of memory care facilities.

medicaid lawyer alzheimers care

Here are a few features an Alzheimer’s care or memory care facility may provide.

A Welcoming Atmosphere – Many care facilities will have private rooms, bathrooms, and plenty of natural light to help the residents feel more comfortable and at home. Easy-to-navigate floor plans will let a senior enjoy his/her stay at the facility. They may participate in enjoyable everyday activities helping to improve their cognitive functions.

Secure Settings – Memory care facilities provide secure settings to keep the residents safe 24 hours a day. Many of these facilities include enclosed courtyards so seniors can explore the outdoors safely.

Person-Centered Care – All residents are not the same. They have unique needs which should be addressed. The facility will provide quality care catering to each resident ensuring their nutritional needs, medication needs, and hygiene needs are met. As well as any other unique care required or recommended.

Enriching Activities – Seniors will have a full social calendar in a memory care facility. Planned activities keep seniors engaged to use their skills. A senior can enjoy his/her day by engaging in brain games, art classes, dancing, and music programs.

memory care alzheimers

The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Dementia

Alzheimer’s and dementia are similar in nature, but not the same disease. The terms may confuse many people because they are used interchangeably. Dementia is the umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms revolving around the loss of memory. Alzheimer’s is considered a specific form of dementia responsible for more than 70% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s cannot be reversed since it’s a degenerative disease. But dementia can be treated in some cases to accommodate or slow the cognitive decline. It is important to know the difference between these two terms to distinguish between seniors with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

What is Dementia?


What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most well-known form of dementia. It is a progressive disease often starting with mild loss of memory. This degenerative disease impacts the portion of the brain controlling language, memory, and thought. A common sign of Alzheimer’s is trouble remembering new information. When the condition advances, symptoms become worse and may include disorientation, behavior changes, and confusion. Eventually, the patient may find it difficult to walk, speak, and swallow.

Signs That Alzheimer’s Care Is Needed

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are progressive conditions. And, even though your parents or grandparents may be independent in the early stages of the condition, they may require full-time Alzheimer’s care as the condition worsens. Because additional care is needed for people with this debilitating disease, if there isn’t a full-time caregiver to attend your loved one, assisted living in a memory care facility may be needed.

Here are some of the most common signs your loved one needs to be moved to a memory care facility:

symptoms of alzheimers

Changes in Behavior

Seniors with Alzheimer’s may start acting in strange ways. For example, an independent person may suddenly become fearful of driving, begin to withdraw from society, and decline social invitations. A person who dressed well may suddenly neglect daily hygiene practices. They may forget how to perform daily tasks such as bathing and combing the hair.

Forgetting to bathe, wash, pay bills, or miss appointments are clear symptoms of a decline or onset of Alzheimer’s. Unwashed and wrinkled clothing, unkempt hair, body odor, and other personal hygiene issues are all signs home care or memory care will be helpful.

Confusion That Impairs Physical Safety

Alzheimer’s usually causes confusion and disorientation. Such symptoms can lead to numerous physical safety issues like injuries due to accidents. A person with Alzheimer’s may forget a red light means they need to stop. This will likely lead to auto accidents. Some individuals may wander from home and forget their address or how to get back home. They may also end up someplace they do not recognize. If your parent or grandparent is continuously putting his or her safety at risk, it is time to at least consider a memory care facility.

A Decline in Health

Physical changes are the first symptoms to recognize in a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. If your parent or grandparent suddenly becomes thin and frail, he or she might be forgetting to shop for groceries or take medications as directed. But many other conditions could make your parents or grandparents thin and frail. Hence, you should be cautious when distinguishing between a person suffering from dementia or any other condition. If your senior doesn’t take his or her prescription medications as they were doing in the past, they may be suffering from memory loss or dementia. Sometimes, the senior may forget whether he or she has taken the medication and take more than the required dosage.

alzheimers care

The Death of a Caregiver

Many people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia are cared for by a spouse or family member. When the caregiver or family member suffers from health issues or dies, it often means the senior suffering from the disease needs a higher level of attention such as a memory care facility.


Even though a family member or caregiver can handle most of the needs of a senior suffering from Alzheimer’s, incontinence can become a big issue. When incontinence sets in, the caregiver may become overwhelmed and feel it’s more than they can handle. This can affect both professional and non-professional caregivers who take care of the needs of a parent or grandparent in a home setting.

Wanders Off and Gets Lost

If your parent or grandparent gets up in the middle of the night and becomes confused, he or she may wander. Wandering is extremely dangerous for a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. They may wander and not realize where they are or how to get back home. It can leave them exposed to harsh elements in the winter and summer seasons and put them in dangerous situations. This is a clear sign memory care may be needed.

Finances Are Being Neglected

If your parent or grandparent has been living alone, it is important to take note of his/her mail. Do you see unpaid bills or late notices? Do you see collection and creditor notices? Neglecting finances is one of the most common signs additional care is needed. Be sure to communicate with your loved one about their finances as they may become at risk or vulnerable to financial scams.

signs of alzheimers

Your Loved One Is Lonely and Isolated

Feelings of isolation and loneliness can increase the risk of depression in people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Getting out with a parent or grandparent suffering from Alzheimer’s can be quite difficult. A memory care facility has active and engaging activities for your loved one that can help relieve depression and anxiety, as well as to mitigate anxiety and agitation often accompanying Alzheimer’s.

Living Conditions Become Subpar

If you notice your loved one is no longer caring for his or her home, food is spoiling in the refrigerator, too many household messes or dishes are left out, it may be time to move them to a memory care facility. Memory care facilities have linen services and housekeeping to help your loved one stay clean and organized.

Elder Law and Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer’s is an emotionally traumatizing disease for both the patient and family members. Besides the considerations for medical care, quality-of-life holds the biggest concern for most individuals. Fortunately, planning with an experienced elder law attorney provides many advantages for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. An experienced elder law attorney will provide you with a variety of strategies to cover the cost of Alzheimer’s care and obtaining Medicaid benefits for covered services.

This can be critical as the cost of medical and health care expenses for this type of disease are exceedingly high. On average the cost of memory care in the state of Missouri is $4760 per month. Because this type of disease can go on for many years the cost can greatly impact any savings or retirement accounts originally set aside for your golden years.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s and need assistance, call Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty) at 816-524-7999. Paths Law Firm has been helping seniors and their families for over 25 years with elder law and eldercare issues. We will help plan and apply for the most benefits available to you to assist with your care. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.


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Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Jeane Fracassa – a dedicated and accomplished professional who retired with an impressive 38-year service record from the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Throughout her illustrious career, Jeane served as a Civian Supervisor in the Communications Unit, where she played a pivotal role in ensuring efficient and effective communication within the department.

Even in retirement, Jeane’s commitment to community service remains unwavering. Currently, she serves in various capacities within Community Relations at Paths Law Firm. Actively engaged in the Lee’s Summit and Overland Park communities, she proudly represents the law firm.

In all aspects of her life, Jeane Fracassa exemplifies the values of community, compassion, and family. Her commitment to making a difference and her love for exploration make her a remarkable individual, whose presence brightens the lives of those she encounters. Whether at work, with family, or during her travels, Jeane’s genuine care for others and her zest for life make her a truly remarkable and inspiring person.

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Laura is the Law Firm’s marketing assistant, supporting all marketing tasks, including managing calendars, researching upcoming events, updating marketing software and spreadsheets, and partnering with organizations to maintain relationships that benefit Paths Law Firm’s clients.  Laura is also the law firm’s professional photographer as she provides the professional photographs for the headshots, organizations, events, and networking.

Laura has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer.  She is also Adobe and Microsoft Certified.  She graduated from Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri with her Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Behavioral Psychology (minors in Social Work and Criminal Justice), and her Photographic Craftsman degree from Professional Photographers of America. She is certified as a Qualified Mental Health Professional, Certified Gentle Teacher, Medicaid Billing Certified, Crisis Intervention Counselor, and a Missouri Notary.

Laura has been married more than 26 years and has a daughter and a son. She has four brothers, a niece, and a nephew. Her four spoiled pets that love her attention. A lot of Laura’s off time is spent taking photos and she is an internationally published photographer. Laura owns a studio on the historic Independence Square. 

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Holly is our newest member of the administrative team. She is hardworking, has proven organizational skills and excellent communication skills. Holly has transitioned to the Estate Planning field from healthcare administration where she gained valuable knowledge that has contributed to her success here at Paths.

Holly enjoys spending time with loved ones, cheering for the Chiefs, and relaxing on the beach.

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Tressa has the important role of being a client’s initial point of contact as the law firm’s receptionist for all locations.  She also welcomes, assists, and cares for clients at the Lee’s Summit office. Additionally, she provides support in an administrative capacity for the attorneys, staff, and clients.  When you meet Tressa, the first quality many note is her readiness to be of assistance.


Tressa is a graduate of Park Hill High School with extensive administrative experience and executive level management. Tressa brings a stability and comfort to the law firm experience having worked in a variety of industries and having lived in six different major metropolitan cities.


Tressa has a daughter, two sons, and one grandchild.  In her free time, she enjoys her family and friends, loves being outdoors, gardening, bike riding and bird watching. Indoor hobbies include scrapbooking, painting cookies, and cheering on Chiefs football. She is a Kansas City native but enjoys traveling but is always happy to be back in her hometown.  


Kathleen E. Overton


Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton is an attorney and owner at Paths Law Firm. She has more than 17 years of experience advocating for those with special needs and navigating the state and federal agencies formed to help the disabled and elderly. At Paths Law Firm, Kathleen’s practice focuses on helping the elderly qualify for nursing home Medicaid, creating estate plans to protect beneficiaries, as well as a lot of time planning and forming businesses. Kathleen also enjoys helping clients form non-profit organizations and obtain 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.


After attending law school at the University of Oklahoma, Kathleen began representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Eventually her practice switched to federal court appeals and Kathleen spent years representing clients before the Eastern and Western District of Missouri, the District of Kansas, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kathleen has since focused her practice on estate planning and elder law after watching clients struggle to find ways to financially care for loved ones with special needs or aging parents.


Kathleen lives in the Northland with her husband and four children. She spends her free time attending soccer matches and ballet performances with her children and starting endless home improvement projects with her husband. 

Medicaid paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Medicaid Paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Tena is a Medicaid Paralegal.  She is very meticulous and organized.  She works closely with the attorneys, clients, and State representatives. 

Tena has an associate in applied science and has over 20 years of office management experience. She has two daughters and one grandson.

Tena enjoys spending time with her family.  She enjoys everything outdoors and her hobbies include fishing and gardening.


Sydney R. Morris


Sydney R. Morris

Sydney is the law firm’s internal accountant and one of their experienced paralegals having been with Paths Law Firm since 2017. She is a primary point of contact for estate planning and business planning.

Sydney graduated with honors from the University of Missouri Kansas City in 2022 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She is a Bloch Launchpad, Phi Theta Kappa, and National Honor Society alumni.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, baking and going on long walks. 


Christy L. Phillips


Christy L. Phillips

Christy has three years of experience in elder law working for seniors and their families. She is currently the Senior Administrative Assistant and organizes the day to day functions of the office and makes sure everything runs smoothly. When asked why she loved what she does, Christy said at Paths Law Firm, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite parts of the job are getting to know the clients and helping them get their questions answered. 

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as the Senior Administrative Assistant. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to the relationship she had with her grandparents. 

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has been with her high school sweetheart for 25 years and they have two beautiful children together. Her daughter works in the medical industry, and her son currently attends High School and plays Baseball. When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and spending time with her family and friends.

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.


Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits


Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary


René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law


René A. Fracassa

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

In her spare time, René is currently quite active managing multiple generations of her family, including parents and grandkids.  René has had great impact on the lives of many women teaching discipling and teaching and abundance of Bible Studies. Her former career in management and event planning trained her well to juggle all the activity.


Hilary R. Tichota


Hilary R. Tichota

Hilary plays a vital role in managing the Marketing Department at Paths Law Firm.  She is excellent at bringing new ideas and sharing valuable resources with the law firm and our community. Hilary has been with the law firm since the beginning, working in nearly every role which is invaluable in her marketing endeavors as she brings a unique set of skills into the Marketing Department.

Hilary is nearly complete in her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Marketing at Park University.  She has earned the honor of being listed in National Honors Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Dean’s List. Hilary is always looking for new and innovative ways to share the law firm’s message.

While not working, Hilary spends her time with her family at their rural home. They tend to their chickens and honeybees and enjoy the solitude of country living.


Jennifer A. Bronson



Jennifer is the Sr. Paralegal and Operations Manager at Paths Law Firm.  She oversees the firm’s probate department as well developing, implementing, and managing all the firm’s administrative processes having been with the law firm almost from the beginning.  She enjoys client contact as well as behind-the-scenes operations.


Jennifer began her legal career in 1990 as a legal secretary.  She has worked in small and medium sized firms, as well as court operations.  She has her Paralegal Certificate from Boston University, Law Office Management Certificate from University of Central Missouri, and she is a Master Financial Coach. 


Jennifer has two daughters, twin sons, and twin grandsons.  She spends as much time as she can with them.  She enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and tending her yard. 


Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)


Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings more than 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was an accountant and his first couple years practicing law was as a tax attorney. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty’s focus is helping protect seniors’ assets from taxes and long-term care costs, benefit qualification, and navigating more complex family scenarios in their estate planning.

Rusty has personally experienced the loss every parent fears, caring for a spouse suffering with cancer and the treatment, and working with aging parents through all stages of their lives.  He intimately understands the challenges faced by individuals and their caretakers when capacity or health declines, how to prepare for it, and the legal matters while in the midst of it.  He may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

Rusty has multiple degrees and advanced study spanning his Bachelor’s of Arts in Business Administration – Accounting at Rockhurst College (now Rockhurst University), Masters of Arts in Accounting and in Intercultural Studies, as well as his Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.

Practice Areas

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education


BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City

Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate