Lots of people agree with the notion that “Knowledge is power.” Many of us feel that if we have an awareness of a problem, we can face it head on. And in doing so, we gain a little control over the hand life is dealing us.
That is the sentiment of Keri Pollock, communications director of the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), Western and Central Washington State Chapter, who says there are many benefits to early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
“People can learn about what they are dealing with and can make decisions that won’t be a burden to the family later on,” says Lori. “Also, individuals can try various drugs designed to help cognition, join support groups for people with dementia, participate in clinical trials to help find a cure and even act as an advocate involved in public policy.”
Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Helps People Plan
In keeping with that belief, a group of early stage advisors recently launched a new section of the AA website called, “I Have Alzheimer’s.” Families and patients are invited to tap into the straight-talking discussions and resources.
Basically, the “I Have Alzheimer’s” website is empowering. It encourages individuals to participate in the same kind of planning we all need to face as we grapple with our mortality.
The reality is, however, that those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s cannot hangout in limbo-land or denial like their undiagnosed brethren. As a result, the website suggests patients get busy planning for legal and financial issues, building a care team and expressing their end-of-life wishes.
Legal Planning Helps Senior Patients Plan
• Taking inventory of existing legal documents, reviewing and making necessary updates
• Making legal plans for finances and property
• Putting plans in place for enacting your future health care and long-term care preferences
• Naming another person to make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can
Financial Planning Takes Stress Off Families
After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, financial planning often gets pushed aside because of the stress and fear this topic evokes. However, you can reduce stress by dealing with these questions:
• Where to begin?
• What are the care costs?
• How do I pay for care?
• Where to find professional assistance?
Build a Care Team to Help You Through
A care team is the group of people who you will partner with and rely on to provide you help, care, support and connection throughout the course of the disease. You are in the center, but you are not there alone. Questions to ask:
• Importance of building a care team
• Who should I include?
End-of-Life Planning Tells People What You Want
Discussing end-of-life wishes with your family and care team can often be difficult and emotional. But if you don’t have an honest talk about these topics, how will others know and respect your wishes? Discuss these topics:
• Expressing your wishes
• Life sustaining treatments
• Do not resuscitate (DNR)
• Talking with your doctor
• Brain autopsy and donation
• Funeral/burial plans
Please let us know if the information on the “I Have Alzheimer’s” website helps you or your family deal more effectively with the disease.