Planning for All Futures: GCM Can Help
It is common for people to talk about planning for the future and planning for retirement, but not many people talk about planning for memory loss. According to the Alzheimerʼs Associationʼs 2012 report, over 5.4 million people are currently living with Alzheimerʼs Disease, which is just one of the many forms of dementia. One in eight Americans have Alzheimerʼs Disease. As the number of people in the U.S. being diagnosed with a form of dementia increases, this talk about planning for the future is becoming even more important.
Early conversations are imperative. They allow families to plan on a variety of levels. First, early interventions allow for the person, diagnosed with any form of dementia, to seek medical treatment right away. Getting a diagnosis and finding a trusted medical professional allows the person to explore all medical opportunities. They may be candidates for medications that may or may not slow the progression of the disease. They may also be interested in pursuing life changes that could impact their overall health. Programs are springing up all over the country that focus on Brain Health and provide opportunities for those in the early stages of memory loss to stay active and receiveopportunities for those in the early stages of memory loss to stay active and receive support from people experiencing similar issues. It also allows caregivers to seek support early on how to cope with changes.
Talking about memory issues also allows families to make financial plans. Sometimes, some of the earliest signs of memory loss occur when a person makes poor financial decisions. Since people with memory loss are at an increased risk of being victims of financial fraud, interventions allow the family to meet with financial planners and attorneys to protect the personʼs financial interests and provide them with the greatest number of options for future care. A recent article in Kiplingerʼs, entitled “Prepare for the Financial Impact of Alzheimer’s”, did a great job of addressing the financial needs of planning for Alzheimer’s.
Finally, early intervention allows the person who has been diagnosed to be a part of the planning process while they are still able to make decisions. The person may express that they would like to remain at home, if possible, and may want to make some safety modifications to their home. Some may want to move closer to their children, who could help. Others may express that they would like to live in an assisted living facility or other community where they could receive support. Allowing the person to be a part of the process of selecting a facility or even transitioning to a new home in the early stages of the disease, increases their chances of being comfortable and feeling at home in the new setting.
All of this early planning and conversations allows the family to know that they are meeting the wishes of the person living with memory loss and removes some of the stress, worry and guilt that families feel when they have to make these decisions. At Geriatric Care Management, we work with families in all stages of dementia and to help clarify which type of dementia their loved one has: Alzheimerʼs, Frontal Temporal, Vascular, Lewybody, Alcohol related, mixed dementias, etc. and what to expect. We can meet with families and the person who is experiencing memory loss to do screening and evaluation about being home alone, driving, and what specialists to see. We can make recommendations also on financial planners, needed legal documents and refer to attorneys to prepare those, as well as specific programs and facilities that could provide the services that person and their family may need.
If you would like a consultation about planning for memory loss,
please call to schedule an appointment. 897-3009
– Brianna Matel, MSW
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