The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Hayden Colby


Alzheimer’s Disease is a prominent terminal ailment affecting a vast number of the world’s senior citizens. The Disease causes a cognitive deterioration in brain cells which results in limited or no ability to do basic activities. Texas has seen a disproportionate amount of Alzheimer’s cases due to senior citizens relocating upon retirement. Alzheimer’s Disease costs American citizens thousands of dollars in healthcare services every year. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, one loses his or her ability to manage their finances. This leads to a lack of independence and a greater susceptibility to financial abuse by those wanting to take advantage of an already poor situation. In Texas, seniors can avoid contracts by proving they were incompetent at the time of the transaction. One safeguard for the assets of the elderly is making them a ward in a guardianship. There are even criminal laws in place to protect against elder abuse. No one is too young to start estate planning for the possibility of their becoming mentally deficient. A durable power of attorney or medical power of attorney will achieve this. The Family Protective Services is another resource for ensuring seniors who need protection from exploitation receive it. Texas’ support system for protecting seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease from financial abuse is fairly robust; however, downfalls still exist within the system and its protections. Most senior citizens with Alzheimer’s go unprotected against financial abuse and mismanagement. Families need to be proactive when estate planning, as well as getting their loved ones tested and diagnosed. There should also be revisions to contract law which protect senior citizens by shifting the burden of proof to the counterparty involved. Policymakers should rethink the merits of denying senior citizens the right to contract avoidance.

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St. Mary's University School of Law