Once a diagnosis has been made, it is important to work closely with your doctor and any other caregivers to map out a plan to manage the disease.
Developing a Plan
A comprehensive financial and legal plan is important. It is helpful to plan as early as possible. Some families use the services of an elder law attorney.
A plan should consider:
- Legal and Estate Planning: There may come a time when a person with Alzheimer's can no longer make decisions for themselves. This can create a hardship for a caregiver trying to conduct financial transactions and make medical decisions. This is one place where advance planning can be very helpful. There are several types of legal documents that can be written before they are needed to try to prevent legal pitfalls from making a difficult time for families even worse. The legal documents and the legal issues you will need to consider often differ based on state laws and the current situation of the person with Alzheimer's. For a guide to understanding options in this area, please visit the following links:
◦ The Alzheimer's Foundation of America provides details on guardianship proceedings and how they are reached.
◦ The Alzheimer's Association gives an overview of important legal documents and tips on locating an attorney.
- Identification of Local Assistance Programs: It is important to know what resources you can count on as the disease progresses and the amount and type of care that is needed changes. Please view the local resources in Caregiver Resources and Finding Alzheimer's Capable Care to identify resources in your community.
- Optimal Living Arrangements: Many families choose to stay at home for as long as possible. In many cases subtle changes to the home can make staying a more viable option. These changes can remove obstacles that hinder care giving duties. Often the changes are designed to make the home safer for people with dementia. Information on how to modify your home to facilitate caregiving can be found in Caregiver Resources.
- Social Security Disability Insurance: People who are younger than 65 with Alzheimer's disease can apply for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration recently added Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease as one of the conditions that qualifies for the Compassionate Allowance Program. This program helps speed the processing of applications of people with certain conditions. Information on how to apply for Social Security and the Compassionate Allowance Program is available.
- Paying For Care: Paying for medical care and long-term care services can be a major issue for family caregivers. Understanding what is covered by Medicare and what you may have to pay out of pocket will help you prepare for the often significant cost that can accompany caregiving. Paying for Care and Services contains links to several sources of information on what you may already be covered for and what you may have to pay for yourself.