Accepting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease with a doctor’s diagnosis is the first step in preparing for a future in which a senior can make arrangements that preserve his or her comfort and dignity. Doing so as early as possible helps to reduce the disruptive impact of dementia.
After receiving a diagnosis, the senior and his or her family may be in shock over this life-changing news and need time to absorb what it means for their future, but as early as possible, they should take time to have a discussion about the senior’s wishes if they should become seriously ill and need to designate someone to make decisions on their behalf.
The Alzheimer’s Association also recommends putting legal, financial and end-of-life plans in place as early as possible because it is a progressive illness with symptoms that gradually worsen over time as nerve cells in the brain are destroyed. Although there is currently no cure, treatments are most effective when used early in the disease. Medication may help modify some of the neurological symptoms, but the impact can also be lessened by keeping healthy through diet, exercise and social engagement, AA states.
“Discuss your wishes with your family or care partner,” AA says on its website. “Important issues to discuss include: handling finances; when to stop driving; when to use community services to help with meals, transportation and activities; and your care and living arrangements when a change is necessary…”
Other planning they recommend:
- Delegating decision making to someone the senior trusts.
- Appointing a trusted family member or friend to help manage finances, assist with bill paying and be a joint signer on bank accounts.
- Discussing where or with whom the senior wants to live if he or she can no longer take care of his- or herself.
- Discussing how to pay for long-term care (Medicare, life insurance, long-term care insurance, etc.).
- Telling others care preferences, completing advanced directives and identifying a durable power of attorney.
“There are a number of legal and financial documents that will help you formalize your plans and wishes,” AA states on its website. “These are documents that everyone should have in place. However, when a person has an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there is no time to waste. Taking the time to put these documents in place now will be a big help to you and your family in the future.”
One of the toughest choices that will have to be made is who will step up as a caregiver if the family intends to manage the senior’s dementia from home. It’s difficult precisely because feelings of guilt and resentment can come into play, but there are alternatives to someone in the family sacrificing their career and personal life to be a caregiver.
At Riverwood, we offer memory care through our Remembrance Village. By partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association we enhance the quality of life for our seniors. Our highly-trained staff presents a personalized program of care and support so the senior with Alzheimer’s enjoys a high quality of life and faces the disease with dignity.
To learn more about Riverwood Retirement Community, call (706) 235-0807. To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia, visit http://www.alz.org/georgia/