Were you aware that June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month? Currently, did you know that there are more than 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease? Even though there is still no known cure, it is widely accepted that the number one risk factor is advanced age. Playing a critical role in supporting an impacted senior’s long-term well-being are family caregivers.

There are many resources available to help family caregivers. We would like to honor the millions of seniors and family caregivers, and discuss five tips to help an elder loved one cope with Alzheimer’s Disease.

1. Your loved one needs legal documents. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that includes memory loss, diminished problem-solving abilities, and erratic behavior. Often, symptoms worsen over time until patients can no longer care for themselves. After the initial diagnosis is made, it is highly recommended that your elder loved one obtain a durable power of attorney. This document will allow your loved one to select a trusted family member or friend to make financial, health care, and legal decisions on his or her behalf. Advance directives and a health care privacy release are also important legal tools, as are any updates to an estate plan that would provide for long-term care and his or her legacy.

2. Create a plan with your elder loved one to live with Alzheimer’s. Having a clear idea and being prepared in regard to what to accomplish can provide the greatest benefit to Alzheimer’s related medical appointments. Your elder loved one’s effective planning for the future should stem from previous appointments and include updates and new concerns, such as details about ongoing treatments and changes in symptoms.

3. Be sure to help minimize stress for your elder loved one. Stress is exceedingly unhealthy for an Alzheimer’s patient, especially during advanced stages of the disease. You can minimize the stress of your loved one by talking about appointments with doctors ahead of time, scheduling all appointments during your elder loved one’s best time of day, allow for plenty of travel time, and have your loved one focus on something enjoyable.

4. Always ask questions and take notes. You should 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. It is very important to record any significant events or changes in behavior.

5. Be sure to discuss future care options with your loved one and family. As Alzheimer’s progresses, an impacted person’s treatment will change. You should 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. Also, be sure to ask about new treatments and access to clinical trials that could introduce even more care options.

Planning for the future is critical to ensure that your goals for the end of life are achieved. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.