More than 5.8 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s Disease and millions of family members and caregivers suffer alongside them. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease and the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for cognitive degeneration. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. To better serve those impacted by the disease, advocates across the health care, legal, and nonprofit communities have helped designated June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.
The annual campaign offers support and educational resources to the public and those in need. Early recognition of Alzheimer’s is of critical importance. Let us share several early warning signs everyone should know as well as what to do about them right here in our blog.
- Memory Loss. Forgetfulness is a normal part of the aging process, but early onset Alzheimer’s involves forgetting unmistakable items, such as the names of close individuals, and asking for the same information over and over again.
- Diminished Problem Solving. Be mindful of newly developed difficulties with following simple plans, working with numbers, or resolving daily tasks that have never presented issues in the past.
- Misplacing Familiar Objects. Anyone can misplace his or her car keys, but an early sign of Alzheimer’s involves putting familiar items in unusual places and having no recollection about it.
- Poor Judgement. People with Alzheimer’s may begin to show poor judgement with money and personal grooming. They can also make dangerous decisions without realizing it, such as going for a walk and getting lost.
If you’ve witnessed abnormal memory loss, unsettling behaviors or other warning signs, consider scheduling a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. A skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with more than 90 percent accuracy, and early detection provides more time for medical treatments to slow down Alzheimer’s symptoms.
A positive diagnosis, or even a negative finding involving similar degenerative symptoms, will require certain legal precautions. Since Alzheimer’s is progressive, steps should be taken to protect impacted elder adults before later stages of the disease erode their ability to competently express themselves. Creating or updating an estate plan would provide an opportunity to enshrine their wishes regarding estate assets and end-of-life desires. A durable power of attorney would also allow a trusted loved one to make decisions on their behalf.
Being proactive about putting legal protections in place now can prove invaluable should your loved one continue to suffer the debilitating impacts of Alzheimer’s. We are here to provide you and your family with the support to protect yourselves now and into the unknown future. Schedule a meeting with us to discuss your legal options and how we can help you.