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.