Proactively Planning for Dementia
As loved ones age, their physical and mental abilities change. They may not be as quick or sharp as they once were, they may have mood swings, and they may need more help taking care of themselves. But there is a difference between the general decline individuals can experience as they age and the decline someone can experience if living with dementia. The following are signs of dementia provided by the Alzheimer’s Association that caretakers may encounter:
- Memory loss – the kind that goes beyond occasionally forgetting a name or appointment and then recalling it later. Instead, it’s forgetting recently learned information, important dates, or repeatedly asking for or relaying the same information;
- Challenges with planning and problem-solving – having difficulty organizing get-togethers with loved ones, balancing a checkbook, or keeping track of monthly bills;
- Problems with words – not being able to follow a conversation, or having difficulty in coming up with the right word for an object;
- Uncertainty regarding time or place – getting lost driving to familiar places, or not knowing where they are even in their own home;
- Declining judgement – buying unnecessary items, or taking actions they wouldn’t otherwise do like wiring money overseas as a result of a scam;
- Decline in executive function – having difficulty with organizational skills, and skills that regulate cognitive ability and behavior;
- Mood changes – this could include regularly becoming upset or fearful when they cannot recognize their loved ones or surroundings, it may also lead to paranoia or accusations that loved ones are stealing things that have been misplaced;
- Visual impairment – having problems with spatial awareness, they might see darker colors in carpet patterns as holes, and might trip and fall on curbs or rugs;
- Withdrawal from social activities – no longer wanting to be involved in social settings or hobbies they previously enjoyed or ignoring someone who is trying to talk to them.
Being able to identify these possible warning signs can help protect your loved ones. It can lead to conversations with healthcare providers about what kinds of treatments are available and what kinds of obstacles your loved ones and you might face in dealing with the diagnosis.
Making plans before a diagnosis of dementia can aid in the transition period. Our firm recognizes the value of being able to plan proactively, rather than trying to play catch up after a diagnosis. We use estate planning tools that allow individuals to create personalized plans where they are in control of their assets until they are no longer able to be; that allow them to select who will make the determination that they are no longer able to be in control; and, that allow them to select who is then put in control over their assets. We also use tools, like advanced directives, that enable individuals to document their health care wishes. So, before anything happens or any deterioration occurs, they have thought about and discussed with their healthcare agents what types of treatments they would like to receive under various conditions. Having a personalized plan in place beforehand can help ensure you are getting the type of treatment you want and that your wishes will be followed.
For more information about planning proactively and to learn about the tools we use, please contact our office at (248) 409-0256. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process.