If you are a fan of the TV series “This Is Us”, then you have been following the story line about Rebecca and her diagnosis of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2019 Facts and Figures, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease, which is just one form of dementia. Additionally, 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. These are sobering facts and, like Rebecca’s character, receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be devastating for both the individual and their family/support system. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, there are some important questions you should be asking:
Will your estate plan continue to accomplish your life goals as your dementia progresses?
Make sure that you have a current Durable Power of Attorney document in place that appoints someone to step into your shoes to manage your financial affairs should the need arise. Also, make sure you have a current Massachusetts Health Care Proxy appointing a decision-maker for health care issues, should you be unable to manage your health care decisions in the future. It is crucial that you have a detailed conversation with your named proxy so that he/she knows what is important to you with respect to health care and what your wishes would be in certain circumstances.
Do you have the financial resources to maintain your quality of life into the future?
Discuss your current needs and wishes with a professional. What changes, if any, do you need to consider now to ensure that your goals are met in the future? Do you travel now and like to continue doing so? Maybe you want to consider focusing on building your savings to cover future health care costs. This is also a time to reexamine your living situation. Can you afford to age-in-place successfully in your current home? Do you need to consider a change in your living arrangements and, if so, begin to look at the alternatives that may fit your budget?
What are your functional and lifestyle needs?
Have your activities of daily living been evaluated by a knowledgeable professional? Do you need extra help now? What is the plan should you need additional services to help with household tasks and personal care such as showering and dressing? Take time to get to know the resources that are around you. What programs are available on the Federal, state and local level to help address your needs now and in the future.? How will you pay for those programs or are there steps you can take to become eligible for assistance? If your desire is to stay in your home, make sure you are open to accepting increasing levels of help, as you needed it. Maybe start with having someone come in and help with household chores (cleaning, laundry) so that you start to build relationships with caregivers and companies and get use to the idea of having assistance coming into your home. Getting to know what a “next step” would look like before the need arises helps to reduce anxiety for both you and your loved ones and allows for decisions to be made when you are not in the middle of a specific health crisis.
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be very frightening. Creating a plan that includes reviewing your legal, financial, and functional status now is imperative to ensure that your goals and wishes are known and followed as you progress. Founded by a Nurse Attorney, Generations Law Group has created a custom-tailored Aging Advocate Program to meet the needs of your loved one. With offices in both Acton and Sudbury, let our team help your family put a plan in place to protect all of your Generations.