Alzheimers Disease Coping Planning Future

With the help of modern diagnostic techniques, doctors are able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. This gives those with the condition the opportunity to begin planning for the future before their symptoms worsen. Legal experts encourage people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease to update their legal and financial arrangements as soon as possible to ensure that their wishes regarding long-term care and estate management are carried out.

Hiring an elder law attorney or other lawyer can make planning for the future much easier. A lawyer can:

  • Ensure that your wishes are carried out
  • Explain state, provincial or national laws regarding financial and legal issues
  • Help you prepare important legal documents (such as helping you write a will)
  • Offer legal advice.

Low-income families may also be able to obtain legal help from the following sources:

  • A legal aid office
  • Alzheimer’s foundations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Social services agency.

Planning for the Future: Advance Directives for Health Care

Advance directives for health care are legal documents that outline your wishes for your Alzheimer’s treatment, long-term care and end-of-life care. You must prepare these documents while you can, so that your wishes will be carried out when you are unable to communicate them.

Health care directives include:

  • A living will outlines your wishes regarding end-of-life care and life support.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care authorizes a particular individual to make decisions regarding your treatment for Alzheimer’s and other conditions, as well as end-of-life care.
  • A do not resuscitate (DNR) order instructs medical staff not to perform CPR if a situation arises in which your heart goes into cardiac arrest or you stop breathing.

Planning for the Future: Advance Directives for Estate Management

As with health care directives, you must establish advance directives for estate management while you are capable of making such decisions. Some of these documents may include the following:

  • A will outlines exactly how you wish your assets and estate to be distributed among your heirs after you are gone.
  • A durable power of attorney for finances authorizes a particular individual to make decisions regarding your financial affairs.
  • A living trust authorizes a trustee to hold and distribute your property assets.

Planning for the Future: Preparation Is Key

Legal experts suggest that you begin to make arrangements for the future as soon as possible after your diagnosis. In addition to ensuring that health care directives and legal documents are current, you may also wish to let family members know the location of:

  • Bank records
  • Copies of all legal documents
  • Credit card account information
  • Insurance information, including health, life, auto and homeowners policies
  • Property titles
  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Tax records.

It is difficult to tell how quickly your symptoms will progress and prevent you from being involved in important decisions regarding your health and finances. Planning for the future can help to reduce anxiety about your own future and future of your loved ones.

Resources

American Health Assistance Foundation. (n.d.) Financial matters. Retrieved June 22, 2010 from http://www.ahaf.org/alzheimers/livingwith/financialmatters.html.

American Health Assistance Foundation. (n.d.) Legal matters. Retrieved June 22, 2010 from http://www.ahaf.org/alzheimers/livingwith/legalmatters.html.

Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. (n.d.) Legal and financial planning. Retrieved June 22, from http://www.alzinfo.org/alzheimers-legal-financial.asp.

U.S. National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Aging. (n.d.) Legal and financial planning for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved June 22, 2010, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/legaltips.htm.