Tips to Plan For Your Future if You’ve Been Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s Disease

If you have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, know that you are not fighting this battle alone. In 2017, the estimated number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease was 5.5 million. This staggering number doesn’t include those who are living and coping with Alzheimer’s Disease on a daily basis and haven’t been officially diagnosed.

Any healthcare professional will tell you that knowledge is power when dealing with a medical diagnosis, so the best advice to plan for your future is to be proactive and utilize all of the resources readily available to you.

Preparing, planning, and thinking ahead will alleviate stress and allow you to be mindful of the changes that can you expect to encounter.

Here are some helpful tips that will allow you to better plan for your future if you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease:

Educate Yourself on the Resources Available

A great starting point is the Alzheimer’s Association. Here you can learn the intricacies of Alzheimer’s Disease, the symptoms and different stages, treatment options, research studies conducted, and most importantly, a community of like-minded individuals that understand the struggles.

There is even a helpline that is available 24/7 at 800-272-3900 where you can call in at all hours to discuss your concerns or ask a probing question.

Another great resource is the library. In particular, we like the best-selling book, written by Nancy L. Mace, MA and Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH. “The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss”. This is wonderful guide with sensible and legal advice for families and caregivers alike.

 

Assemble Your Care Team

Choosing your care team is an important decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This team will be your core support and the main group that you will share your struggles and triumphs with.

It’s important to establish a support system with people who have your best interest at heart, but it is just as important to keep things light-hearted, so be sure to include those who will put a smile on your face and make you laugh.

Your team should include family members near and far, close friends, neighbors, your medical team, and members of your social groups. Your care team will expand over time and change since many caregivers also suffer with memory loss concerns and may also be experiencing the same symptoms and therefore will need their own care team at some point.

 

Be Open to Receiving Help

It’s not uncommon for patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease to become resistant to help due to shame, ego, pride, or a combination of attributes. If you have been diagnosed, you owe it to yourself and your family to being open to accepting help. This step will go a long way and assist in building your self-esteem and, in turn, improve your mindset and personal well-being.

One important item that could assist with this step is to create a list of your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Having a list in place will allow you to see what areas of your life can benefit from help and alleviate the guesswork when the time comes to ask.

 

Legal Planning

Having a plan in place to secure your future is a vital step that everyone should have established. However, it is even more important to initiate the legal planning phase if you are starting to have memory loss concerns.

The first step is to choose a trusted legal advisor who will assist you in navigating through this process. There are a number of resources to help you in choosing the right person, but if you don’t know where to start, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends a community resource finder that provides a list of elder attorneys in several locations; National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys has a great list and LawHelp.org also provides a list of no-cost or reduced cost legal aid solutions in your community.

The four basics of legal planning include making a record of all legal documents and keeping everything up to date, creating a plan for properties and finances, creating a health care plan that includes long-term care options, and naming a person that can make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can. Your legal advisor will help you determine what documentation is necessary and assist you in completing them. Once the documentation is completed, it is important to distribute to everyone in your care team.

 

Financial Planning

Creating a solid financial plan for your future is key with Alzheimer’s disease, so the sooner you learn about your diagnosis the better. You want to ensure that your future is secure and if you don’t have the financial means to ensure you can afford your medical expenses, you’ll need to explore the many resources available to you.

The first step is to complete a financial planning worksheet. This will help you organize financial information that you can then share with your financial advisor and your care team.

 

End of Life Planning

Discussing your final wishes with your loved ones and health care professionals while you are conscious and healthy will serve you best in the end. As difficult as these conversations may be, it is crucial to be honest with yourself and your care team about your end of life goals. You’ll want to consider a number of important factors, including life-sustaining treatments, funeral and burial planning, and hospice care, just to name a few.

 

Be Good to Yourself

Planning for your future can be a daunting task but it shouldn’t take away from living a happy, positive, and fulfilling life. During your planning phase, be sure to include all of the activities that enrich your life and enlighten your soul – whether gardening, working out or simply going for a walk. Incorporating this natural therapy into your life plan will not only benefit you – your loved ones will appreciate and need this just as much.

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