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Did you know there is currently 47.5 million people living with dementia and by 2050 this number is estimated to triple, so we all should be aware on methods to manage the disease.
Making A Financial Plan. Care for a dementia patient can be financially straining on both the individual and their family. You should consider creating a financial plan by outlining all current and future costs, which often includes personal care supplies, home safety modifications, prescription medications, in-home care services, and more. Professional guidance may also be required to help you recognise future issues, find potential financial resources, identify tax deductions or make sound investment decisions. They all need to be considered and addressed whilst the patient is capable of having an input.
Legal Planning. Another serious consideration and should involve the person with dementia as long as they have legal capacity, which is the ability to understand the meaning, importance and implications of a given legal document and execute by signing. Legal documents signed now will not remove the individual’s rights immediately but will be implemented when they no longer have the legal capacity to make decisions. It is important to work out all legalities in advance of signs or symptoms of cognitive decline. The following are important documents to take into consideration when planning r future legal needs:
- Power of Attorney – This allows the individual with dementia to appoint another person, the agent, to make financial and other decisions when they are no longer able.
- Power of Attorney for Health Care document appoints an agent to make health care decisions when the individual is no longer able.
- Will – A will defines how the estate will be distributed upon death and the distribution of the assets in the estate.
- Living Will – This expresses how a mentally or physically incapacitated person wishes to be treated in certain medical situations by detailing the exact medical treatment they want.
- Guardianship/Conservatorship – A guardian is appointed by a court to make decisions about the individual’s care and property when he or she is no longer able to provide for himself or herself and the family is unable to agree.
Creating a Long-Term Care Plan. Long-term care planning should accommodate the individual’s current needs and preferences as well as his or her needs and preferences as they evolve. Consider whether the person with dementia is willing to move to a residential care facility or would prefer to stay in the comfort of home. In-home care services are offered on a as needed basis and provide customised, one-on-one support at home which is often the preferred choice.
End of Life and Funeral. Although difficult, funeral planning gives the decision making power to determine what one does and does not want in the final stages. Identify which life sustaining treatments an individual wishes to receive and decide whether or not he or she will want to use hospice care services. For some, expressing their direct wishes for funeral plans can be an empowering part of the process. Remember, planning ahead not only gives individuals control over their future needs, but also gives peace of mind to their families. It’s a fact of life that we all will face but if you can discuss it early enough, then the pressure and stress of organising it later is lessened.
Local Support and Resources. Finally, take care of your health and mental wellbeing. Planning for the future and coming to terms with the diagnosis can be overwhelming. A variety of support groups are available to cater to your specific needs, including groups for people with a diagnosis, loved ones of an individual with dementia or caregivers of people with dementia. Join a local group like Alzheimer’s Australia.
Whilst is can be a difficult time for those around the patient, and often a struggle to accept the diagnosis, you are not alone and there is much support available. Making plans early with dementia can at least make the journey easier for everyone.