The Rising Instances of Alzheimer’s and its Effect on the Family, by Peter J. Gilbert

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness month and 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, and the numbers are only rising. For loved ones, the reality of managing the care and financial affairs of a senior with diminished mental capacity can be an extremely stressful.

Doctors say that unusual behavior, such as getting lost while driving or forgetting to change clothes, can be an early sign that a person may be suffering from some form of mental decline or impairment. 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. If that ship has sailed, then there are legal strategies that can be put in place to help your loved one qualify for either public or veteran’s benefits to pay for care.

However, even just communicating your wishes and estate plan to loved ones now can be a huge help. At HighPoint Law Offices, we strongly encourage clients to hold a Family 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. For your loved ones, it could start with just a bit more disorganization than is normal, or a need for help with bills. The warning signs 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 information on this and other elder law topics, explore our website, attend a workshop, and contact us at 215-997-9773 to schedule your consultation today!

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HighPoint Law Offices PC

At HighPoint Law Offices we support individuals, families, and businesses of all backgrounds with estate planning services that address their unique wishes, goals, and challenges.

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