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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Dementia / Diagnosis of Dementia Isn’t an End to Making Legal Decisions

Diagnosis of Dementia Isn’t an End to Making Legal Decisions

Alzheimer’s is insidious.

The definitions of that somewhat old-fashioned term in the Meriam Webster Dictionary include “awaiting a chance to entrap” and “developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent.”

Those all perfectly describe Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and it is the subtle onset of loss of memory and cognitive abilities that make these such frustrating conditions from a legal standpoint. By the time a man or woman realizes, or is willing to admit, there’s a problem, it may already be too late to take the proper steps.

“It’s important for everyone to plan for the future, but legal plans are especially important for a person with Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the website of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center. “The sooner planning starts, the more the person with dementia may be able to participate. Making legal plans in advance is important for several reasons. Early planning allows the person with dementia to be involved and express his or her wishes for future care and decisions. This eliminates guesswork for families, and allows for the person with dementia to designate decision makers on his or her behalf. Early planning also allows time to work through the complex legal and financial issues that are involved in long-term care.”

“If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it is necessary to consider legal and financial matters,” a page on the website WebMD states. “People with Alzheimer’s may have the capacity to manage their own legal and financial affairs right now, but as Alzheimer’s advances, they will need to rely on others to act in their best interest. This transition is never easy. However, advance planning allows people with Alzheimer’s and their families to make decisions together for what may come.”

“Most Americans understand the importance of planning ahead for college funds, mortgages and retirement accounts” the American Association of Retired Persons Foundation website advises. “But when it comes to caring for older loved ones, most families don’t even think about it until there’s a problem. That only makes a bad situation worse. Today 30 million families provide care for an adult over the age of 50, a number expected to double in 25 years. As a result, providing care for an aging loved one will be as common in the future as providing childcare is today. If you haven’t begun to talk about creating a caregiving plan for the older ones you love with their needs and wishes in mind, now is the time.”

“There are many legal issues that should be considered when a loved one is stricken with Alzheimer’s disease,” offers the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. “Because the issues are sometimes complex and the regulations vary by state, it may be helpful to contact an elder law attorney for advice and counsel. Your local Agency on Aging can also help you understand the overall requirements and resources in your state, as well as help you locate an elder law attorney.

“Elder law attorneys focus on the special legal needs of older persons and persons with disability to protect their autonomy, quality of life and financial security as they age.” ()

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