Did you know that there are currently more than 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease? While there is no known cure, it is widely understood that the number one risk factor is advanced age. Family caregivers can play a critical role in supporting an impacted senior’s long-term well-being and there are many resources available to help them.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. In honor of millions of seniors and family caregivers, we are going to discuss five tips to help an aging loved one cope with Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Prepare legal documents. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that involves memory loss, diminished problem-solving abilities, and erratic behavior. Symptoms worsen over time until patients can no longer care for themselves. Following an initial diagnosis, it is highly recommended to obtain a durable power of attorney document to allow a trusted loved one to make financial, health care, and legal decisions on the elder adult’s behalf. Advance directives and a health care privacy release are also important legal imperatives, as are any updates to an estate plan that would provide for long-term care and inheritance wishes.
- Create a plan. Preparation and a clear idea of what to accomplish can provide the greatest benefit to Alzheimer’s related medical appointments. An effective plan should stem from previous appointments and include updates and new concerns, such as details about ongoing treatments and changes in symptoms.
- Minimize stress. Nobody needs unnecessary stress, but it is exceedingly unhealthy for an Alzheimer’s patient, especially during advanced stages of the disease. Put a senior loved one at ease by talking about doctor’s appointments ahead of time, schedule them for the elder adult’s best time of day, allow for plenty of travel time, and help your loved one focus on something enjoyable.
- Ask questions and take notes. Keep a log between appointments to both ask and answer important health care questions. Keep track of medications, dosages, and times of day when they are taken. Make sure to record significant events or changes in behavior.
- Discuss future care options. As Alzheimer’s progresses, an impacted person’s treatment goals will change. Make sure to discuss both short-term and long-term care options, particularly regarding transportation, adult day care services, memory care centers, nursing home care, palliative care, and hospice services. Ask about new treatments and access to clinical trials that could introduce even more care options.
If you or someone you know would like more information, or guidance, about related legal matters, our firm is here to help. We provide legal counsel on elder law matters such as those related to having a loved one with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Please feel free to contact us to schedule a meeting.