Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that eventually results in a slow decline in thought processes, memory and reasoning skills. The National Institute on Aging provides a bit more detail in its definition and defines it as “an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks”. Experts say as many as 5.1 million Americans have some degree of this disease.
These neurological disorders are what prove difficult in legal settings. Because no one can enter into any legal contract if there are signs of dementia or similar memory loss issues, unless you’ve already put your estate plan together, it could be challenging for your loved ones. Here are the ten most common signs and following this list, we’ll explore some of the documents that should be a part of every estate plan – and the sooner they’re in place, the better.
Early on, memory problems are usually the first tell-tale sign that something’s not right. This memory loss is called “amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI)” and those with this condition have more memory problems than normal for people their age, though perhaps not to the degree of full Alzheimer’s disease.
After memory loss, the second most common sign is difficult or challenges in problem solving. This might be an inability to develop a daily plan or an inability to add or subtract small math problems.
Familiar tasks may seem foreign. Your loved one may get up to fix a cup of coffee and then struggle in his efforts of trying to remember the steps in pouring the coffee. He may forget a coffee cup, for example and pour it into a bowl or wine glass.
Your loved one may confuse dates and places.
He may have trouble understanding what he sees in a mirror or he may seemingly forget how to read.
He may find speaking a challenge. You may notice an inability to form single syllable words.
He may be unable to retrace his steps.
His judgment may fall to the wayside.
Withdrawing from hobbies and loved ones is often a sign as well.
Finally, changes in Dad’s mood or personality should raise red flags as it too could be a tell tale sign.
These are difficult challenges and often overwhelming to see a loved one struggle with these losses. Finding a Medicaid lawyer can help ease that burden for family members and just as importantly, you need to have a medical and financial power of attorney in place so that decisions can be made on your loved one’s behalf. Speak with your estate planning lawyer and be sure to let your loved one’s doctor know that there are legal protections in place so that he too can move forward with different treatment options.