Worldwide there are currently 47.5 million people living with dementia. By 2050 this number is estimated to triple, so planning for potential cognitive decline is a smart and proactive decision.
A Solid Financial Plan. Care for Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can be financially straining on both the individual and their family. Create a financial plan by outlining all current and future costs, which often includes personal care supplies, home safety modifications, prescription medications, care services, and more. Professional guidance, such as from a financial advisor, can help you recognize future issues, find potential financial resources, identify tax deductions or make sound investment decisions.
Dependable Legal Documents. Legal planning is another serious consideration and should involve the person with dementia as long as he or she has legal capacity, which is the ability to understand the meaning, importance and implications of a given legal document and execute by signing. Legal documents signed now will not remove the individual’s rights immediately but will be implemented when he or she no longer has the legal capacity to make decisions. Thus, it is important to work out all legalities in advance of signs or symptoms of cognitive decline. The following are important documents to take into consideration when planning r future legal needs:
- Power of Attorney – This allows the individual with dementia, the principal, to appoint another person, the agent, to make financial and other decisions when he or she is no longer able. Similarly, a Power of Attorney for Health Care document appoints an agent to make health care decisions when the individual is no longer able.
- Will – A will defines how the estate will be distributed upon death by naming an executor who will manage the estate and beneficiaries who will receive the assets in the estate.
- Living Will – This expresses how a mentally or physically incapacitated person wishes to be treated in certain medical situations by detailing the exact medical treatment he or she wants.
- Living Trust – This is another document that provides instructions on the handling of property and assets. An appointed trustee will follow your directions in managing affairs.
- Guardianship/Conservatorship – A guardian is appointed by a court to make decisions about the individual’s care and property when he or she is no longer able to provide for himself or herself and the family is unable to agree.
Creating a Long-Term Care Plan. Long-term care planning should accommodate the individual’s current needs and preferences as well as his or her needs and preferences as they evolve. Consider whether the person with dementia is willing to move to a residential care facility or would prefer to stay in the comfort of home. Memory Care residences for those with dementia are 24-hour living facilities comprised of apartments within a secured area to ensure safety for the resident. Structured activities and caregivers improve quality of life for residents but offer the disadvantage of being an unfamiliar living arrangement. Alternatively, in-home care services are offered on an hourly or 24/7 live-in basis and provide customized, one-on-one support at home.
End-of-Life Care Preferences. Although difficult, end-of-life planning gives the decision-making power to determine what one does and does not want in the final stages. Identify which life sustaining treatments an individual wishes to receive and decide whether or not he or she will want to use hospice care services. For some, expressing their direct wishes for funeral plans can be an empowering part of the process. Remember, planning ahead not only gives individuals control over their future needs, but also gives peace of mind to their families.
Local Support and Resources. Finally, take care of your health and mental wellbeing. Planning for the future and coming to terms with the diagnosis can be overwhelming. A variety of support groups are available to cater to your specific needs, including groups for people with a diagnosis, loved ones of an individual with dementia or caregivers of people with dementia. Visit the following links to find a local support group today:
- United States: Find local support through the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Australia: Find local support through Alzheimer’s Australia.
- Canada: Find local support through the Alzheimer Society.
Cognitive Therapeutics for Long-Term Brain Health. Home Care Assistance offers the Cognitive Therapeutics Method™, a cognitive stimulation program that uses fun yet affective activities to promote brain health as well as delay the onset and slow the progression of symptoms of cognitive decline. The program focuses on cognitive activities as well as coping strategies, sensory engagement, social skills, recreation, exercise and diet to enhance quality of life. The Method can be used with a trained specialist or with an experienced caregiver in partnership with home care services.
To learn more about Cognitive Therapeutics Method, visit www.HomeCareAssistance.com/Cognitive-Therapeutics-Method. Remember, being proactive about your future needs is the best decision that you can make for yourself or a loved one.