How Can I Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease presents numerous problems for elders, care givers, and family members. Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition that slowly deteriorates the mental and physical health of the person affected.
The condition has become a problem for elders across the globe. In the year 2015, approximately 48 million people across the world were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition. This means that the symptoms become worse overtime. Elders suffering from Alzheimer’s will require special care and supervision as the disease progresses. The best way to help an individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is by planning where your elder will live, who will care for them, and determine how your loved one will make complex decisions. Here are five things you can do to plan for Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Understand the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
The first step in planning for Alzheimer’s disease is to understand the symptoms. By being aware of the symptoms you can get your loved one diagnosed for Alzheimer’s and get them the care they need.
Understanding the symptoms will also allow both you and your family to prepare for the emotional trauma of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease effects everyone differently. However, there are three stages of Alzheimer’s disease that you need to be aware of.
Because Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, the condition will continue to get worse overtime as the elder’s mental health diminishes. At its earliest stage, Alzheimer’s symptoms can include short-term memory loss, difficulty performing routine tasks, and confusion about time and place.
Additionally, elders may suffer from mood swings and even make questionable decisions at this stage in the progression.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, the symptoms will become more severe. Unfortunately, the memory loss will get worse. Memory loss will make it difficult for elders to remember close friends and family members. People with middle-stage Alzheimer’s also have a tendency to wander, become less logical, and suffer from a loss of motor function.
The symptoms of middle-stage Alzheimer’s can make the simplest tasks difficult. This makes care and supervision for the elder essential.
The symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer’s are the most severe. Late-stage Alzheimer’s disease can cause complete loss of cognitive function. This can result in not being able to communicate or recognize friends and family members.
Additionally, late-stage Alzheimer’s can cause physical deterioration which makes daily physical tasks impossible to complete without assistance. Few people reach this stage of Alzheimer’s because the condition can take nearly twenty years to become this severe.
2. Determine Where Your Loved One Will Live
Once you understand the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the next step is to determine where your loved one will live. Elders suffering from Alzheimer’s may require special living arrangements as the condition progresses. There are two types of living arrangements that can sufficiently meet the needs of elders with Alzheimer’s. These two options are living at the family home with the help of a caregiver or living in a nursing facility.
Living at the Family Home
During early-stages of Alzheimer’s disease, at home care can be beneficial to the health and well-being of your loved one. While the symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s may be a nuisance, remaining in the family home may be sustainable.
However, at home care will require assistance from a regular caregiver to complete daily activities. This role can be fulfilled by a loving family member or paying for the services of a professional caregiver.
Living in a Residential Care Facility
As the condition progresses to middle-stage Alzheimer’s, your loved one will require more care. At home care may become too difficult or even dangerous for your loved one. Because at home care may no longer be a viable option, you may need to find a residential care facility or nursing home.
These types of facilities provide around the clock care, extra safety features, and activities devoted to the mental health of your aging loved one. Some nursing facilities specialize in caring for elders suffering from Alzheimer’s.
These types of facilities have specialized sections or units with individuals trained to care for elders suffering from Alzheimer’s. While a nursing facility may be an expensive option, elders suffering from middle-stage to late-stage Alzheimer’s generally require specialized care only available in residential care facilities.
3. Consider Health Care and Financial Directives
Alzheimer’s disease can negatively impact an elder’s decision making ability. As the disease progresses, an elder’s mental health can diminish to the point where financial and health care decisions become difficult.
Diminishing mental health can leave elders at risk for elder fraud and exploitation. However, there are several legal tools that can protect the health and financial interests of an elder suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Health Care Directives
Health care directives can be a useful tool for elders suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These directives allow you to state your decision for medical choices in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. Health care directives also provide you the ability to name a trusted person to carry out or make medical choices for you.
Alzheimer’s disease may render an elder unable to make simple financial decisions. Financial directives provide another tool to help elders make difficult financial decisions ahead of time. Financial directives allow you to give a trusted individual durable power of attorney.
This person would have the ability to make difficult financial choices for your elder. Additionally, an individual with a durable power of attorney has the ability to pay bills and deposit income into their bank accounts. They can also make sure your elder receives their social security benefits and make other necessary financial choices.
4. Determine How Your Loved One’s Care Needs will be Met
Elders suffering from Alzheimer’s will require more daily assistance and supervision. The amount of care that your loved one will require will be based solely on the stage of Alzheimer’s they suffer from.
If your loved one suffers from middle-stage to late-stage Alzheimer’s, then they will require extensive care. Elders suffering from middle-stage to late-stage Alzheimer’s will require around the clock monitoring and supervision.This kind of extensive care can only be provided by a residential care facility that specializes in caring for individual’s with Alzheimer’s.
An elder that suffers from early-stage Alzheimer’s will require far less care. Most individuals suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s choose to live at home because of the familiarity and cost. However, an elder suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s will require some supervision and daily assistance.
The daily care needs of an elder with Alzheimer’s can be met by a physically capable spouse. Sometimes, other family members pitch in to help care for their loved one.
If neither of these options are feasible, then the elder suffering from Alzheimer’s may be forced to hire a professional caregiver to help with daily tasks. Thus, it is essential to determine who will serve as the primary caregiver to the elder suffering from Alzheimer’s.
5. Encourage Family Involvement
Alzheimer’s disease can have a devastating emotional impact on both the person affected and their loved ones because of the loss of memory and confusion. This makes involvement from the elder’s family absolutely essential.
Studies have shown that regular contact with family members is helpful to elders suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Elders suffering from Alzheimer’s can benefit from seeing the familiar faces of close family members regularly. Thus, it is essential that family members maintain an active role in the lives of elders suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is an emotionally draining condition for both the person affected and their loved ones. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease create several special care problems that need to be addressed before the elder’s conditions worsen.
If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, consulting with an experienced and competent elder law attorney is recommended. Ultimately, having an experienced attorney by your side can best serve to protect your aging loved one.