By J. Trevey
If you have a loved one who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you may initially be filled with questions about what the diagnosis means for your family. If you have spoken with the doctor and performed your own research about Alzheimer’s disease, you have likely realized that the diagnosis will undoubtedly bring about some changes in the lifestyle of your loved one. Your loved one will need more care and support as time goes on, not to mention the financial implications of medical visits and eventual fulltime care. Though you may be faced with a barrage of emotions at first, it is important to remember that you are in the company of millions of other people in the same situation, as made evident by the plethora of organizations, support groups and associations that exist to help people like you understand and respond to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Besides educating yourself about Alzheimer’s disease, it may also be beneficial to begin planning for the future now, while your loved one is the most independent and able to provide input about decisions affecting his or her future. Creating a plan for your loved one’s medical and other care expenses and establishing how decisions will be made on his or her behalf in the future can help ensure that your loved one has access to proper care and prevent you from encountering a gray area that leaves your hands tied in the future.
Arranging for healthcare is an important stage of planning for your loved one’s future. Establishing a situation in which long term medical care is available and affordable can benefit anyone, but is especially important for people with a long term illness such as Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one currently has a long term care insurance policy, carefully read over the policy as it relates to progressive or long term illnesses. Clarify with the provider any portion of the policy about which you or your loved one have questions. If your loved one is uninsured, you may consider the possibility of obtaining the best policy that is affordable, paying particular attention to the coverage of medical care for long term illness outlined by the policy.
If your loved one is over the age of 65, he or she should qualify for Medicare, a federal health insurance program that covers some hospital, medical and prescription expenses. You may want to investigate your loved one’s eligibility for Social Security and Medicaid benefits as well to ensure that he or she receives the maximum assistance for which he or she qualifies.
The progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease results in a decreasing decision-making ability over time. For this reason, it is important to discuss financial planning with your loved one as early as possible, and establish how and by whom he or she would like financial decisions to be handled. The procedure through which future financial, medical and other decisions will be made on behalf of the patient can be officially established by a document called a power of attorney. A power of attorney, often a component of a person’s estate plan, gives an appointed person or organization the authority to make decisions on behalf of your loved one when he or she is no longer able to do so. Talk to a trusted lawyer about the type of power of attorney that is appropriate for your individual situation.
Planning for the future is an important step in caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Taking the initiative now to plan for future financial, medical and decision making needs will provide numerous benefits to yourself and your loved one moving forward.
About the Author: John Trevey is the manager of The Breckinridge, a Kentucky assisted living home specializing in Alzheimer’s care. For more information, please visit www.thebreckinridge.com
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