Over 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimers disease, and 3 million new cases are diagnosed each year. More than 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimers disease or another dementia. These staggering statistics mean that you likely know someone or have a loved one who has a form of dementia. In the United States, 11 million people are acting as unpaid caregivers for a loved one with Alzheimers. November is National Alzheimers Disease Awareness Month, an opportunity to learn more about this disease that is deadlier than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. This progressive disease starts with mild memory loss and involves the part of the brain that controls language, thought, and memory, impacting a persons ability to carry out daily activities. Research has not determined the exact cause of Alzheimers, but it is believed that several factors can play a part in the disease, including:Genetics: Family history may be linked to developing Alzheimers, though it is not guaranteed that if someone in your family is affected, you will be, too. Healthy lifestyle choices like exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, and eating a healthy diet may help. Age: This is the best-known risk factor for the disease. Environmental factors: Science is studying the potential connection. Changes in the brain: These can happen years before symptoms appear. Since memory loss is not a normal part of aging, knowing the warning signs is important, especially if you have concerns about a loved one. Someone may experience the following symptoms early in the process: Challenges executing familiar tasks at home, work, or during leisure timeDisruptions in daily life due to memory loss, like repeating questions or becoming lost in a familiar placeDifficulties paying bills or handling moneyMood, personality, or behavioral changes Losing items and not being able to figure out how to retrace steps to look for themPoor judgment Memory Care Communities can benefit someone living with dementia as well as give their families peace of mind. Often located within larger assisted living facilities or in smaller residential settings, these specialized facilities can provide dementia care for residents with middle to late stage memory loss. The environment is secure, and full of safety features designed to enhance memory function and decrease potential confusion for anyone who lives there. Memory Care focuses on giving aging adults a safe environment to stay engaged and active in a structured environment. Features can include art classes, physical therapy, fitness classes, music experiences, and communal dining to help residents stay socially connected. CarePatrol has been helping families find the right senior care options for their loved ones for over 30 years. As specialists in the field of aging, CarePatrol Local Senior Care Advisors are able to match older adults to the right communities so they can live their best life, including Assisted Living, Independent Living, Nursing Homes, and Memory Care Communities. Reach out to see how we can help your family today.
I was at a family reunion recently, and I overheard a lady say that one of the challenges of getting old is seeing your parents aging. This lady is probably in her late 50s and she is the caregiver for her mom, who is in her 80s, with very serious health problems. Speaking with the owner of a relatively large business recently, he said that many of his employees are needing to take time off from work. This is because they are caregivers for their parents. This is a sign of the times, and there are an increasing number of people dealing with these issues.This One Is For The CaregiversMost of our presentations and educational content are focused on our clients, whether its retirees in their 60s or seniors in their 70s and 80s. We do estate planning across the generations, but given the increasing number of caregivers taking care of their parents, I wanted to reach out to the caregivers. The title of this blog What to think about when the unthinkable happens, refers to what we should think about and do as caregivers, if a parent becomes sick or passes away.Estate planning is really about the management of control and access. The control aspect refers to who is making the decisions, and access refers to what is allowed with regard to the finances. If my client has a stroke, or gets dementia, they may have mental faculty issues. As a result, they may not be able to manage their own affairs as they used to. If you notice your parents health is declining, as caregivers you need to consider the following:Power Of Attorney DocumentThe first thing you need is a document called a financial power of attorney, which shifts control when someone needs assistance. There are essentially two types of Power of Attorney documents:A springing power of attorney is based on the idea that you sign the document while you have the capacity, so that should anything happen, your child can take over. The problem is that nobody ever admits that they are losing capacity, especially if they have dementia. It then becomes a battle if the child needs to use the power of attorney, to act on behalf of a parent.The other type is a durable power of attorney, which you sign while you have your mental faculties. However, the document is effective immediately even if your child may not use it immediately. This type of Power of Attorney is preferred in most situations. Since dementia is progressive in nature, there will likely be a gradual decline in a seniors mental capacity. Over time, the child caregiver will need to take more responsibility to help their parent. Eventually the time will come when the parent cannot manage on their own. This is the time when the durable power of attorney will work, and is the primary way to plan for someones incapacity.Asset Protection Is ImportantAnother suggestion is to consider doing some asset protection, using an asset protection trust. I recommend these trusts for middle class and upper middle class families who are concerned about long term care expenses. We can work with you to create these trusts. The system in this country often results in seniors going broke if they need long term care. Nursing homes in Pennsylvania cost $180,000 a year and most people cant afford to pay that. Only when you are broke, can you get Medicaid benefits to pay the nursing home. Medicaid is the only payment source for long term care, and its important to understand the rules of Medicaid. One of the rules is that if you have transferred assets to an asset protection trust ahead of time, those assets are protected from long term care costs.We Can Help You To Find Long Term Care FacilitiesIf you have a parent who is starting to slip, they may need long term care at a later stage. Please take the time to understand the different types of facilities available to provide care for your loved one. We help our clients with this aspect, and we have a social worker on our team who is familiar with the different facilities. We help people find good care, which I believe is part of doing good estate planning.Take Care Of YourselfWhile you are taking care of a loved one, if you are a caregiver, you must get the resources to help you to take care of yourself. Here is link to a website with information on caregiver resources: https://www.hospiceandpalliativecareofkodiak.org/caregiver-resources. Jennifer who started this company did so after being a caregiver. She realized the many challenges that caregivers face from an emotional standpoint. You are not in this alone and you also need the support.Losing A Loved OneWhen we talk about the unthinkable happening, we are talking about losing a loved one. Perhaps youre the executor and you are wondering what you should do first if your loved one passes away. Let me reassure you that there is no legal or financial emergency that needs addressing in the first 48 hours. If you have just lost someone dear to you, allow yourself time to grieve. When it comes to the estate administration process, it is a marathon and not a sprint. This is especially pertinent when it comes to probate cases. Please contact the Sechler Law Firm or your estate planning attorney, to get help with the estate administration process.
Studies suggest a large portion of seniors with dementia have unrecognized, severe pain. A recent study out of the University of Rochester suggests that nearly a third of severe pain cases go unrecognized when seniors have dementia.1-3 Pain in dementia can lead to other problems such as agitation, aggression, hallucinations, delusions, depression, impaired physical function, and increased mortality risk. What can we do?It can be difficult for family caregivers to recognize pain, even severe pain, when loved ones have dementia. Doctors and nurses often rely on reports from family caregivers. When it comes to questions about pain, clinicians should take a moment to try to engage a patient directly. They also need to do observational assessments. Tools such as the Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia (PAINAD) scale can be used to standardize, quantify, and rate pain assessments. Importantly, tools such as these can guide clinicians in observation techniques that can improve the detection of pain among patients with dementia. Family caregivers can try free tools such as these themselves. Moreover, they can prompt their clinicians to use a pain assessment scale specifically designed for patients with dementia.Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia Scale (PAINAD): http://dementiapathways.ie/_filecache/04a/ddd/98-painad.pdfReferencesWang J, Monroe TB, Simning A, Conwell Y, Caprio TV, Cai X, Temkin-Greener H, Muench U, Yu F, Ge S, Li Y. Pain management in home health care: relationship with dementia and facility admissions. Pain Management Nursing. 2021 Feb 1;22(1):36-43.Paulson CM, Monroe T, Mion LC. Pain assessment in hospitalized older adults with dementia and delirium. Journal of Gerontological Nursing. 2014 Jun 1;40(6):10-5.Wu N, Miller SC, Lapane K, Roy J, Mor V. Impact of cognitive function on assessments of nursing home residents pain. Medical Care. 2005 Sep 1:934-9.