It is common to feel overwhelmed after you or a family member are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Not only do you need to work through the emotions that come with this news, but it is also important to put together a care plan. Due to the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s and many other dementias, you will need to factor in the cost of care and determine who will provide care over the long-term.
Even though it is a difficult time, you can empower your family starting the planning process. Given that there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, many people choose to live life to the fullest after receiving a diagnosis such as taking long-desired vacations and checking off other “bucket list” items, while also planning for future care needs.
Checklist for Future Planning
At first, things might not seem much different compared to the life that was lived before the dementia diagnosis. But the person will require more care as the disease progresses. Here are a few things that should be considered:
- Housing and Services: Discuss options for care at home or in a facility. If in-home care is chosen, consider using services available through reputable home care providers or adult day care programs. There are many Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) that offer “memory care” which is specific to the needs of people with dementia. The costs of these options must be weighed carefully.
- Paperwork and Legal Details: It can be helpful to hire an estate planning attorney to arrange for a comprehensive estate plan. If they retain decisional capacity, the person who is diagnosed with dementia can appoint a power of attorney for property and for healthcare. Ensuring that legal documents are up-to-date means that the family isn’t left without legal authority to handle the affairs of the person with dementia while they are living but lack capacity. It also helps to ensure a smooth handling of that person’s estate once they die.
- Income and Benefits: A dementia diagnosis can be a financial stressor on the family. Look at potential sources of income, budget goals for care services, and possible access to long-term care insurance benefits. Some people work with a financial planner to project future costs of care and budget accordingly.
- End-of-Life Care: As hard as it is to have this conversation, you should discuss end-of-life care wishes. The Conversation Project offers useful advice about how to address this topic. Determining final arrangements can provide the person with dementia and the family with peace of mind. Many funeral homes provide pre-planning services that can be catered based on the desires of the person and the customs of the family.
Support for Accessing the Best Care and Services
This kind of planning can be hard to begin when the family is emotionally distraught upon receiving a diagnosis. If needed, allow a little bit of time before attending to these tasks.
Also, don’t overlook the benefits that come from working with Aging Life Care Managers and other professionals who can guide these important decisions. If you need support with future planning for dementia or other progressive conditions, Windward Life Care is here to help. We assist families in finding the right resources in the area.