While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, early detection offers the best path for dealing with all that the disease entails. Common signs and symptoms can include unusual memory loss, difficulty solving problems and completing familiar tasks. It can also manifest in confusion about time and places, continued or new issues with speaking and writing, poor judgement and misplacing objects.
If you notice one or more of these early signs in an aging loved one and it seems unusual, it is highly recommended that you schedule an appointment with a doctor. A professional examination can provide insight and important information on how to proceed with treatment.
If a diagnosis is positive, you can begin to explore treatments that may provide some relief from Alzheimer’s symptoms. You can also apply for clinical trials aimed at increasing access to cutting-edge prescription drugs and advancing important research. While there is no cure, there are new studies emerging each year designed to target the disease and potentially slow the progression.
As soon as possible, begin the process of planning for the future. This begins with creating your estate plan or updating your existing one. Your planning needs to include health decisions, but also decisions about financial and legal matters, transportation, and living options. The latter specifically highlights the need for long-term care planning. The majority of seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease will need some form of long-term care either in the home or in a skilled facility. These expenses can be high and it is critical to determine how you will be able to afford this care as soon as possible.
Thinking through financial, long-term care and end-of-life affairs can be among the most important choices you can make both before and after this diagnosis. If possible, it’s best to do this in the early stages of the disease while your loved one is still largely capable of expressing his or her desires. The sooner you establish the appropriate financial and legal plans for you and your family, the better prepared you will be for the onset of this disease. Once your planning is in place, you can more easily focus on spending time together.
Finding support for you, your family and other loved ones of the person afflicted with Alzheimer’s is also a good idea. Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect the person living with it, but also those who care about them. Start as soon as you can to build the support network you will need. The Alzheimer’s Association, the largest nonprofit of its kind, is an amazing organization offering a 24-hour helpline, a community resource finder for Alzheimer’s related services, and a Caregiver Center.
The Caregiver Center is an online tool that can be accessed from anywhere, and it helps both individuals and families find and understand care options. A local office finder tool on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website can also help identify community programs and support services in your area.
Do not wait to ask us for help in creating the plan that you and your loved ones need. While we know how difficult this diagnosis can be, we also know that with advanced planning you can still ensure your wishes are met and your family is provided for.