Alzheimer’s Disease is a well-known problem in the United States, but many people fail to appreciate how devastating the disease truly is. Did you know that Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and that seniors live on average just four to eight years after a positive diagnosis? Or that Alzheimer’s is actually a brain disease and the most common form of dementia? Are you aware that family members, friends, and other unpaid volunteers provide the vast majority of care for impacted seniors?
These are concerning statistics. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that less than 50% of all Americans have an estate plan in place. This can spell disaster for many unprepared adults who are newly diagnosed, not to mention their family members. With so much going on for a newly diagnosed individual, it is no surprise that updating or creating a Florida estate plan may be the last thing on a person’s to-do list. We would tell you, however, that creating a Florida estate plan that can protect you during life, and your family at your death, should be your top priority.
We know that this can be a tremendous amount of information to begin to process. Where to start? What do you actually need? What are the trusted sources of information to turn to? These are all valid questions and concerns. Let us share several critical areas to help you, and your loved ones, move forward in our blog right now.
1. Legal. Following a diagnosis, families should consider, at a minimum, creating a Florida durable power of attorney document with an experienced estate planning attorney. This can allow a trusted person to make legally binding decisions on behalf of the adult when he or she is no longer able to make competent decisions. An advance directive for health care and health care privacy release may also be important legal considerations, as are any estate planning documents that can secure the person’s legacy plans, such as a last will and testament and trust agreement.
2. Medical. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but non-drug treatments and prescription medications can slow symptoms, such as memory loss, diminishing problem-solving abilities, and erratic behavior. Make sure to seek as much information as possible when researching medical treatments, clinical trials, and non-drug options.
3. Education. Learning about Alzheimer’s will help anyone who is touched by the disease to cope with its devastating impacts. If possible, ask the evaluating physician about the diagnosis including:
Asking questions and researching Alzheimer’s symptoms relative to the three main phases of the disease, as well as how to respond to them, can help produce the best outcomes for all involved.
4. Support. Providing support for those with Alzheimer’s and their families is what Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is all about. The nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association is a leading participant in the annual event, and the organization offers a 24-hour helpline and community resource finder. It also operates an online Caregiver Center that helps families find local Alzheimer’s care options. The estate planning legal community is another potent resource for family members in need of professional assistance.
Whether you’re living with Alzheimer’s Disease, caring for a loved one with the disease, or just interested in learning more about it, consider taking part in Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Advocates across the health care, nonprofit, and legal communities are holding public events, promoting education, and offering support resources throughout the country for those in need.
More importantly, if you or someone you know right here in our community would like more information or guidance about related legal matters, including the action you need to take right now, we encourage you to contact us. We can help you create an estate plan that will protect you and your loved ones.