Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that causes difficulty with memory, thinking and behavior. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s most often develop slowly and get worse over time, until the symptoms become severe enough to interfere with the individual’s daily tasks. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It accounts for between 60 and 80 percent of all diagnosed dementia cases. If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or you believe they may be, it is time to start thinking about incapacity planning.
Dealing with the challenges of Alzheimer’s
One of the primary challenges of dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is the eventual loss of ability to think clearly. This symptom makes it difficult or even impossible to make legal, financial and medical decisions. The best course of action is to begin incapacity planning as soon as a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been made, if not before. Why? Because it is easier to make a plan while your loved one is still able to participate. In most situations, individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s are still able to understand and make their own decisions.
Alzheimer’s Association – California Southland
In California, there is a great organization that is here to help families dealing with this terrible disease. The Alzheimer’s Association provides a 24/7 Helpline for reliable information and support. The toll-free number is (800) 272-3900. The Alzheimer’s Association offers families and caregivers comprehensive online resources and information, addressing all stages of the disease.
Alzheimer’s Monthly Telephone Support Group
There is also a monthly telephone support group, with which families can participate. The next date for the group is March 7, 2016, from 1-2:30 p.m. PST. The purpose of this support group is to provide emotional, educational and social support, to help participants develop methods and skills to solve problems related to dementia.
Why is incapacity planning necessary?
Regardless of whether Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia is involved, it is not common for seniors to reach a point where assistance is needed in managing their medical and financial affairs. There are certain steps that should be taken to make it easier for a loved one or trusted friend to help with those issues. The good news is, there are decisions that can be made now, and plans that can be put in place, that will allow someone you trust to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to do so.
Under both state and federal law, you have a fundamental right to control your own life. With these rights comes the ability to decide ahead of time who will have the authority to make certain decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated. An advance directive allows you to make a choice right now. Advance directives are written legal documents that provide instructions or “directives” in advance, to be followed only in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself due to incapacity. Most incapacity planning includes documents such as a power of attorney, the appointment of a health care agent, a living will or an advance medical directive.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that simply conveys to someone you have chosen the power to manage your affairs, as you see fit. There are two common types of powers of attorney, one for finances and one for medical care. The power of attorney for finances is an inexpensive and reliable way to allow someone to manage your finances, should you ever become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney for health care, very similar to a power of attorney for finances, is another common estate planning tool used to help in making necessary health care decisions.
A living will is a unique legal document the purpose of which is to memorialize your wish to die without the use of extraordinary life support measures, in the event you become terminally ill. Your attending physician must certify in writing that you have an incurable injury, illness or disease and that your death is likely to occur in a short period of time before a living will can become effective. The physician must also certify that the use of life-prolonging procedures would only serve to lengthen the dying process.
Advance Health Care Directives
Advance health care directives are similar to living wills, except that they provide specific instructions for medical treatment you consent to receiving, not solely end-of-life decisions. Advance health care directives provide an efficient and flexible way to plan for future health care.
If you have questions regarding Alzheimer’s, or any other incapacity planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group for a consultation either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.