The Alzheimer's Association stresses the importance of completing advance directives for health and legal matters while a person is able to make rational decisions. As anyone may become unable to make their wishes known due to a stroke, a coma after a car accident, or with the progress of dementia; it is critical for every adult in the family to take the time to meet with their legal advisors and complete advance directives in a timely manner.
Husbands and wives, sons and daughters of a dementia patient may note: bills paid twice or not at all, checks lost or later found in peculiar places (in flour canister or mixed in with recyclables),person has lost the concept of money denomination value or gives jewelry away to strangers.
Some caregivers have suggested starting a conversation about advance directives by asking, "If you could not speak for yourself, what would you want me to say about....." or "In case you are out of town, where is the safe deposit key, the insurance papers, and who is our personal banker?"
"Who do you trust to take care of me if you die before I do? Where is our will kept?"
If the spouse or caregiver does not have legal powers of attorney, it may be very difficult to maneuver the myriad health, financial and legal matters needing attention after a serious illness or injury or move from one house to another location.
The group will discuss other issues relating to caregiving issues specific to Alzheimer's and other dementias including help for those who are under 65 and still employed when symptoms appear.
There are many sad cases where spouses hid their spouse's declining memory problems from the out of town children until a serious crisis arose and no one in the younger generation knew basic facts about their parent's legal and financial situation. No one knew how the spouse defused the anxiety of the dementia patient, no one knew the medicine dosage, the name of the physician, the schedule for the paid sitters, the password for the accounts or had access to the checking account.
Caregivers are encouraged to meet with others who are dealing with similar life changes and take the opportunity to share concerns, ideas, questions and support one another.
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