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Dealing With Alzheimer's Disease Memory Loss

How to Cope With Memory Loss in the Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Legal and Financial Matters

At some point, Alzheimer’s symptoms will worsen so that patients can no longer make important decisions about their health, finances, living arrangements, and other matters. MacInnes has legally appointed his wife, Donna, 77, to make decisions for him when he no longer can do so.

Settling one’s legal and financial matters is crucial, Kallmyer says. “It can make things so difficult for the family if these things aren’t put in place. Get that power of attorney. Make sure there’s somebody else on your checking account and your other accounts -- somebody that you trust and that you’ve chosen. If that doesn’t happen and you’re making bad decisions at some point about your finances or are unable to take care of them, it’s very stressful for families to try to get in there and work things out for you.”

Find an attorney to help with the following:

  • Identify and complete legal documents, including wills.
  • Make plans for medical and treatment decisions.
  • Make plans for finances and property.
  • Name another person to make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can. “Find that trusted person in your life, whether it be your spouse or child or friend. Talk with them early on about what your wishes are,” Kallmyer says, including choices for care, living arrangements, and end-of-life decisions.

Financial planning can help reduce the stress of paying for care. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, patients and their families should take these steps:

  • Estimate all care costs, including ongoing medical treatment, prescription drugs, in-home care services, and residential care, such as assisted living and nursing homes.
  • Review personal assets and finances, as well as those of family members who may be able to help cover costs.
  • Get advice from a professional financial planner or an elder law attorney.


Consider Future Housing Options and Services

Right now, MacInnes lives in his own home with his wife and doesn’t need outside help. But to prepare for the possibility that someday, he may no longer be able to remain at home, he has started researching assisted care centers for Alzheimer’s patients.

Whether a patient requires in-home help or needs to move elsewhere, people in the early stages can prepare for the future:

  • Talk to your family about your wish to continue living in your own home. Discuss the type of help you would need to live there safely.
  • Gather information about local services, for example, in-home help, home-delivered meals, and transportation.
  • Talk to your family about where you want to live and with whom if you can no longer live on your own.
  • Research housing options, such as retirement communities, assisted living, or residential care.

Tackling so many duties can be difficult, Kallmyer says. “For someone that’s just been diagnosed, they might not even know how to tell their family. They might not know what to say or how to move forward.” The Alzheimer’s Association has a helpline staffed by counselors around the clock that patients and caregivers can reach by calling 800-272-3900.

“There’s somebody here who can talk to them and help them work out a plan,” Kallmyer says.

Reviewed on October 05, 2009

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