The number of families who will be involved with care of a senior with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia is staggering. In 2016, more than five million Americans were living with the debilitating disease, for which there is no cure and only limited treatment.
WTTW.com’s recent article, “For Caregivers, Dealing with Dementia Can Be Tough Reality,” explains that for loved ones, the reality of managing the care and financial affairs of a senior with diminished mental capacity can be an extremely stressful. Unfortunately, tales of exploitation and abuse are not uncommon.
Doctors say that unusual behavior can be an early sign that a person may be suffering from some form of mental decline or impairment. Examples of this are getting lost while driving in a familiar area or wearing dirty clothes when the senior has previously been meticulous about his or her dress. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s become more apparent as time goes on. This can often be a source of discord among family members, because it’s painful to acknowledge that parents are declining and are not behaving as they used to. This denial sometimes creates tension.
With the cost of care and the burden it frequently puts on the family, communication and preparation are critical. Advance planning can’t be stressed enough, since roughly 60% of family caretakers use a portion of their own funds to cover the cost of care. One possibility may be long-term care insurance. If you’re still young and healthy, that may be one way to minimize the financial burden on loved ones.
However, even just communicating your wishes and estate plan to loved ones now can be a huge help. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we strongly encourage clients to hold a Family Care Meeting to discuss the estate plan, what they’d like to have happen in case of incapacity and any other wishes. It allows your loved ones to hear directly from you, as well as get a handle on their roles and responsibilities in the event of your incapacitation.
An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is never an easy thing and it may start small. Many cases are not as dramatic as some of those mentioned above. For your loved ones, it could start with just a bit more disorganization than is normal or a need for help with bills. Mental weakening can sneak up on someone and may not be obvious at first. Try to communicate regularly with loved ones so any difference or new issue is more likely to be noticed.
It’s an uncomfortable and sometimes scary experience, so you’ll need to handle any potential Alzheimer’s or dementia situation gently. Sometimes, it’s difficult even to acknowledge that an always independent loved one now needs assistance.
For more on dealing with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, see our recent blog post. For more information on this and other elder law topics, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: WTTW.com (February 13, 2017) “For Caregivers, Dealing with Dementia Can Be Tough Reality”