Did you know that an estimated 50 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease worldwide, and the associated caregiving costs reach upwards of $1 trillion? In the United States, more than 5.8 million people have Alzheimer’s and another 500,000 new cases are expected this year.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a public health crisis that reaches one-in-ten American seniors, two-thirds of whom are women. The consequences are far more than mere forgetfulness. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease and the most common form of dementia. It progresses over time until impacted elder adults can no longer care for themselves. There is currently no known cure and Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. What is more, impacted seniors only survive four to eight years on average after an initial diagnosis.
Thankfully, advocates across the health care, nonprofit, and legal communities have helped designate June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The annual campaign is focused on public education, advancing research, and offering a wide variety of resources to those in need. If you or a senior loved one is struggling with memory loss, diminished problem-solving abilities, or erratic behavior, a medical evaluation will provide clarity and information about care options The sooner this is done, the better.
Make it a priority to get tested. A skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease with 90 percent accuracy, which means he or she can also determine if something other than Alzheimer’s needs to be addressed. Although there is no cure, steps can be taken to slow the progression of symptoms through prescription drug or non-drug interventions, access to new treatments, and clinical trials.
Begin the process of planning for the future implications of the disease. Early detection allows for senior adults to participate in creating important legal decisions, such as naming a trusted family member or another close confidant as the agent in a durable power of attorney document. This allows another person to make binding decisions on the senior adult’s behalf when he or she is no longer mentally competent. Other important planning items include advance directives, health care privacy releases, and updated wills, as well as reviewing trusts and beneficiary designations. No matter when the diagnosis occurs, an elder care attorney is uniquely trained to help the patient and his or her family plan for a future that may hold significant long-term care needs.
Getting educated about Alzheimer’s and planning accordingly is important to protect those diagnosed with the disease as well as their loved ones. If you or someone you know would like more information or guidance on related legal issues, our law office is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.