A Dementia Diagnosis; what’s next?

When you, or a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, a tide of emotions will hit you. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease which causes a decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning. Everyday tasks such as handling your finances, taxes, bills, cooking, and driving can be severely impacted. Commonly, you will see confusion in time and place; difficulty in following a conversation; misplacing things; and overall poor judgment and grooming, sometimes with a growing withdrawal of social activities. Some clients will exhibit paranoia, agitation, aggression, and even a change in sexual behavior. You will need to consider your next steps.

Obviously the first step is seeking treatment and advice from your doctor. Alzheimer’s Disease can progress differently in people. There is no cure; however, getting an early diagnosis is crucial to make sure you are getting any medications that could slow the progression. A doctor can refer to a specialist if needed and can provide a great deal of information for the dementia patient and loved ones including support groups. There are many sources of information. Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 hotline 800–272-3900 and many great websites such as: www.alzheimers.gov/ and www.alz.org can easily be found with an internet search.

When clients and their families come to me, the client with Alzheimer’s Disease can be at different stages. As an elder law attorney, I need to ascertain if the client understands their assets, family, and how estate planning could affect their estate and care. If the client has progressed to a point where they can not comprehend these basics, then usually a guardianship proceeding through Court might be an option if they do not have their planning in place while competent. If competent to do advance planning, legal documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney (financial), Healthcare Representative (healthcare decisions), Living Will re: advanced directives, Last Will and Testament and/or trust, funeral planning and organ donation maybe discussed as well. I have created a healthcare guidance form for my clients to fill out to convey what care they want in every conceivable medical situation.

Asset protection and possible protecting a spouse and themselves from impoverishment and making sure all home and facility possibilities and programs will be explored. Every situation is different but there are many legal avenues at any stage, whether a person is single/widowed, or married. We provide a free comprehensive review of helping clients get enhanced quality of care and to legally help protect their life savings.

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