An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease does bring on difficult news for you and your loved ones, but it also gives everyone the opportunity to plan ahead and figure out ways to cope with the disease. Below are some points to consider that may help you, your family and friends handle the process prior to Alzheimer’s preventing you from any unencumbered decisions.
Decide on a Caregiver
Having a stable system of support for you is critical when your Alzheimer’s disease sets in. Whether it is a family member, a team of family members, or a care facility, a conscious decision and agreement should be made among everyone involved in the caretaking process in order to avoid any confusion or unintentional burdens later on. At this time, be sure that the involved parties are openly communicating, and that there are no misunderstandings of any kind.
It is also important to establish where you should live once the disease sets in. A person with Alzheimer’s should not live alone for safety reasons. Whether it is living at your own home with a nurse on standby or with family where there is an active caretaking system in place, housing should be decided on beforehand.
In order to prepare for Alzheimer’s ahead of time, you can establish a routine or habits that might help you reorient yourself later on. Day-to-day activities like waking up at a certain hour, eating meals at a certain hour, taking a shower at a certain time followed by getting dressed, seeing visitors at a particular time or going to bed on schedule will help you to manage a routine system that could help you.
You can speak to your loved ones, friends and family members ahead of time to let them know of your condition and its diagnosis. This might help folks cope better later on if you are unable to recognize them or feel lost. Also consider involving those you live with or those you will eventually live with on the day-to-day activities you will be handling after your disease sets in. If you dress a particular way, or have a preference for meals, the way you style your hair, when to go on walks, or if there are plants or pets that need taking care of, a person’s involvement will allow him or her to understand your needs later on.
Meet With an Attorney
Meeting with an attorney when you are still lucid, able to read and understand documents and make a careful review of your assets is very important in order to protect you and your loved ones from any financial degradation that may occur due to unintentional negligence. There a number of family law attorneys who specialize in elder law who can provide legal assistance for those who are taking active steps to manage his or her financial assets and property prior to the disease’s onset. Another major point to discuss during the meeting with the attorney is who to put in charge for major decisions regarding your health care. Any options for long-term health coverage, services and aid should also be thoroughly considered during this time. Some helpful items to bring with you to the meeting would be a list and documentation of any financial assets, property documents such as deed, trust, will, and powers-of-attorney assignments, life insurance policy, health insurance policy, agreements to admission, and a list with names and contact information for all those who are or will be involved in decision making processes or take on any fiscal or familial responsibilities once you are unable to.
Here are some important things to remember: make sure your power of attorney has a copy or access to the original document signed by you; make sure that the power of attorney has a backup agent or successor should anything happen to prevent the initial person from making any actions; your estate should be handled by your attorney or bank for purposes of neutrality.