Alzheimer’s disease robs the mind and memory and leaves those afflicted confused and helpless. It’s a painfully slow and debilitating process that makes mothers and fathers unrecognizable to their own children and turns long-married spouses into virtual strangers.
When a family member is diagnosed with the disease, important decisions about finances and personal care should be made before their mental faculties begin to diminish. With the involvement of their caregiver, who can provide important details, the transition can be made smoothly. Seek the expertise of a financial planner or lawyer to ensure that nothing is overlooked and that the decisions of a family member gripped by Alzheimer’s are carried out as intended.
Advance directives – financials
Financial directives must be written and made official while the individual is still able to make independent decisions. They’re important to the financial well-being of the patient’s family after their death because they spell out the exact details for how their financial assets are to be distributed. The most fundamental of these directives is the last will and testament, which addresses such matters as naming a will trustee, gifts, and how they are to be distributed. It also details any funeral arrangements, including how the individual’s remains are to be disposed of. Consequently, it is for good reason that experts recommend that an individual who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s should have a will made as soon as possible.
There are also advance financial directives intended to clarify financial arrangements once the disease has reached an advanced state. A durable power of attorney for finances is a directive that designates a trusted individual to render financial decisions so that legal action doesn’t become necessary after the individual has died. A living trust provides direction concerning the individual’s estate and appoints a trustee to manage property and funds on behalf of their beneficiaries. This is a role that a caregiver may be best suited to fill.
Consider recruiting a financial advisor to look at more specific aspects of your estate, including your life insurance and whether it’s worth settling a policy or keeping it over the long-term. A life insurance policy settlement can provide family members with needed funds at a difficult time. For example, if the beneficiaries are deceased or otherwise out of the picture, it may be worthwhile to settle the policy. Just be sure to do your research to understand the process completely before making any decisions.
Advance directives – health care
Advance health care directives are essential for clarifying an individual’s wishes concerning final health care dispositions. A living will details how an individual wants to be medically treated at the end of their life or if they are incapable of making their own decision in the event of a medical emergency. In some situations, a durable power of attorney may be the best option for someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This designates a trusted caregiver to act as the proxy in making and executing decisions once the disease has robbed the individual’s ability to make decisions on their own behalf.
The do not resuscitate order is another very important health care directive that instructs healthcare professionals when to cease performing CPR. It’s a legal means of ensuring that one doesn’t lapse into a persistent vegetative state. One important detail that people often overlook is to give permission for a loved one’s caregiver to communicate directly with lawyers and doctors concerning their care subject’s wishes and last days (specifically, this is intended to avoid the possibility that some mistake is made concerning the Alzheimer’s patient’s final wishes).
Memory loss and confusion are hallmarks of the way Alzheimer’s affects people. This can place an unnecessary emotional strain among loved ones if health care and financial arrangements aren’t addressed while the patient is still in possession of their mental faculties. A good rule of thumb is to begin working on advanced directives as soon as your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Contributed by Lydia Chan. Lydia is the co-creator of Alzheimerscaregiver.net, a website that aims to provide tips and resources to help caregivers. Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lydia found herself struggling to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experiences with caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia finds joy in writing articles about a range of caregiving topics.