Think Ahead - Preparing for a Possible Alzheimer's Diagnosis




By Steve Sarine, Regional Director, Koelsch Communities | Special to Elk Grove News | 

 

Rosa Parks. Ronald Reagan. Norman Rockwell. Glen Campbell. These are names most Americans recognize for their impact on society. What some might not know is these individuals spent a portion of their lives living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. 

 

As we recognize Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November, this a sobering reminder of the disease’s reach. In California alone, nearly 700,000 people over 65 are living with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia. These numbers are projected to increase by almost 22 percent over the next five years. Alzheimer's disease is California's third leading cause of death. While hard work is being done to slow, stop or prevent Alzheimer's and other forms of memory loss, it, unfortunately, will not come down to one treatment or drug. 

 

Sir Francis Bacon famously said, "Knowledge is power." Understanding, developing, and preparing a plan to address the possibility of memory loss will undoubtedly save future undue hardship and grief for you and your loved ones. Here are four tips to better understand and manage potential memory loss care in your future planning:

 

Tip One. Assess the risk. Is there a family history of memory loss? There are no hard and fast rules, but research shows that risk rises when the family has a history of dementia. 

 

Tip Two. Think about what happens when you can no longer live alone. There are several options. Suppose you hope to live at home with a family member. In that case, you should recognize that caregiving for someone with memory loss can become physically, emotionally, and financially overwhelming for your loved ones. 

 

At some point, most people need community care. There are several types of communities to consider. Assisted living, for example, offers burden-free living, committed caregivers and a supportive social environment. As memory issues progress, a higher level of care or specialized memory care environment may be necessary.

 

Dedicated memory care communities, such as The Gardens at Laguna Springs in Elk Grove, offer the comforts of assisted living and are carefully designed and staffed expressly for those living with memory care issues. Exclusive dementia care enables a focus on best-practice care techniques and controlled environments that emphasize the individual dignity of each resident. This approach also minimizes distractions and centers on maintaining the highest quality of life.

 

Tip Three. Understand what living with memory care means from a financial and legal perspective. Addressing this includes straightforward steps, such as sorting out essential legal and financial documents, including your will, a living trust, and advance directives. If you own a business, develop a succession plan or what the sale of your business should look like in case you cannot oversee these steps. Seek legal advice on a power of attorney or a health care proxy. Additionally, it would be best to consider streamlining banking and investment accounts, including insurance providers. Finding a trusted financial planner who can advise and work alongside you and your caregivers can help avoid potentially disastrous mistakes. 

 

Tip Four. Determine how to pay for the type of care needed. Will this include selling your business, other assets, or investments over time? Do you have long-term care insurance that might factor into the equation? Developing a plan with a trusted team of experts, including lawyers, accountants, your business leadership team, and other advisors, is vital. As time progresses, working with a personal financial planner and a licensed geriatric care manager is crucial to making informed decisions about your plan.

 

It is said that the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. Take time now to offer peace of mind for the future.

 

Steve Sarine is the California Regional Director for Koelsch Communities, a third-generation family-owned and operated senior living provider, which owns The Park at Laguna Springs independent living community and The Garden at Laguna Springs memory care community in Elk Grove.



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