Living with Alzheimer’s disease is very difficult for the individuals affected and their loved ones. But by dedicating some time early on in the diagnosis and fighting for the cause during World Alzheimer’s Month and beyond, a family can know they have done everything to support their loved one to live a full life and protect their legacy.
You may not have known but September is World Alzheimer’s Month. As the month comes to a close, it’s important not to forget about Alzheimer’s. Medical research and advocacy are vital causes to uphold. Nevertheless, it is a disease that you and your loved ones might have to face directly, if you have not already. The reality of Alzheimer’s or dementia striking close to home, along with some understanding and prior planning, can help you in terms of the extensive economic toll and the unique legal ramifications.
According to a recent Forbes article, Alzheimer’s is as widespread as it is demanding. Consider this: at least one American citizen will develop Alzheimer’s every 69 seconds. The symptoms are often subtle, at least initially. Some estimate that more than 13 million Americans will have the disease by 2050 and run up as much as $1 trillion in associated healthcare costs. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, most of the costs and problems won’t develop until later on. Nevertheless, significant planning must take place at the time of diagnosis, if not anticipated beforehand.
So, what is the scope of this “significant planning”? First, you will need to secure medical care, both for now and for the future. That means fundamental financial planning need to be addressed, to include securing government benefits like Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance. Second, because of Alzheimer’s progressive cognitive degeneration, estate planning, and, more importantly, incapacity planning, must occur early in the process to secure and protect family assets. This comes in the form of the many necessary documents to ensure that your family members will be able to handle your affairs, both financial and medical, once you are incapacitated: these include revocable living trusts, financial powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, declarations of guardians, living wills, etc.
Fundamentally, it’s important to understand that Alzheimer’s is not the same as other diseases. Through it all, competent counsel will be necessary to properly assess the needs and possibilities, as well as to ensure that everything is in place when needed most.
Reference: Forbes (September 21, 2011) “September Marks World Alzheimer's Month as Advocates Push for Early Diagnosis and Health Care Planning”