The prospect of a spouse or family member developing Alzheimer’s disease is frightening. Faced with a disease they have little knowledge of, family members and, if determined early enough, the afflicted person, must decide who will provide the needed care and how to manage the cost of care. These practical burdens add to the burdens from the disease itself, like inability to savor the reruns of shared memories, loss of emotional control, physical sensation changes, loss of recognition of loved ones, and other common symptoms. Even though the afflicted may be in otherwise good health, the loss of the memory and the inability to independently manage their normal life activities, robs them of enjoyment of life.
Facts about Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s disease
The onset of the disease starts with the development of disorientation and short-term memory loss to the point of disrupting performance of daily activities. Although the average age for the onset is 72.8 years old, studies have shown that 1 in 1,000 people below 65 years of age suffers from “early onset dementia”.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The spouse and loved ones of the afflicted go through a long period of mourning during which time they witness the suffering from symptoms. For them to come to grips with the situation, put their minds at ease, and regain their own lives they must gather all the information available to care for their loved one while seeking to prevent the financial, physical and emotional undoing of the family. They will need the advice and guidance of lawyers, accountants, and doctors. The following tips may be helpful.
1. Get Information.
There are many good books that detail how a family can cope with a member suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and other dementia conditions. It covers issues of daily living including safety, personal hygiene, meal preparation, mood swings and paranoia.
2. Reach out to the National Alzheimer’s Association or another similar group.
These association will assist in finding resources for families needing assistance for their family member with Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Join Local Support Groups.
In a support group, family members will feel supported and gain a sense of community with others who are dealing with the same challenges they are experiencing. Also, they will increase their understanding of the disease and receive other helpful resources from group members.
4. Discuss your Feelings.
Discuss your feelings with close friends and family members even though it may be challenging to do so. They may have realized that something was wrong but were just waiting for someone to start the conversation.
5. Make a Doctor’s Appointment.
To determine the cause of the memory loss, schedule a medical examination. Loss of memory may be due to several different reasons including a vitamin deficiency, depression, and even thyroid problems, other dementias and Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia or memory loss may be treatable, but if the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, it may still be treated with medication that can slow down the progress of the disease.
6. Schedule an Appointment with an Estate Planning Attorney or an Elder Law Attorney.
This is an important step to take while the Alzheimer’s disease afflicted family member still has the legal capacity to engage in legal planning. It is important to obtain a power of attorney in financial, healthcare and a healthcare treatment directive (a living will). Other issues that should be considered are changing property titles, revising trusts and wills and long-term care strategies.
Taking these steps as soon as possible will ensure that the right planning is done in accordance with family wishes and that the family finances are safeguarded as much as possible. This should give peace of mind to family members who are caring for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
We welcome you to contact us today to sit down for a consultation with our caring team to discuss some helpful options to guide you into the future.