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Helping Raise Awareness And Challenging The Stigma Associated With Alzheimer’s

September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. On a personal note, my wife and I have experience helping to care for my mother who has been living with memory loss for more than five years. As a financial planner helping my clients prepare for the best retirement years possible, I have seen the results this devastating disease can have on families. And, as a financial planner, I know the absolute importance of having legal financial documents in place prior to receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Fortunately, my mother’s financial affairs were in order before she was diagnosed.

I am not an attorney, so I do not offer legal advice. However, having seen how an estate can become legally embroiled when a family has not made the appropriate arrangements prior to a diagnosis of dementia of any kind inspires me to encourage my readers to consider the implications and act sooner rather than later. This is also my way of helping to raise awareness during World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International website, many people are of the belief that Alzheimer’s is a normal functioning of aging. They say that is not true, which is why it is so important to recognize the symptoms and make important decisions before any diagnosis.

September 21st World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day

Turning to the National Institute of Health (NIH) website, the experts there say that “Many people are unprepared to deal with the legal and financial consequences of a serious illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Legal and medical experts encourage people recently diagnosed with a serious illness — particularly one that is expected to cause declining mental and physical health — to examine and update their financial and health care arrangements as soon as possible. Basic legal and financial documents, such as a will, a living trust, and advance directives, are available to ensure that the person's late-stage or end-of-life health care and financial decisions are carried out.”

Very often, it is noted by many Alzheimer’s organizations that, after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, financial planning often gets pushed aside because of the stress and fear this topic evokes.

Avoiding addressing these important financial decisions before an illness happens only makes matters worse.

Prepare For The Unexpected

Saving for retirement is one thing but being prepared for the unexpected is right up there in importance. I encourage you to check out the various Alzheimer’s websites, with special attention to the world Alzheimer’s awareness website offering ways to get involved locally.

We faced the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale for which no one was prepared. Let this serve as an example as we continue onward to take important measures to prepare for the unexpected diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Currently there are nearly 6 million people in America diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Learn to recognize the symptoms so that if you or a loved one begins to show signs, you will have a better idea than most how to proceed.

Review financial and legal documents on a regular basis to make sure your loved one’s healthcare needs are going to provide the kind of care you want them to have and that they deserve. If you feel so inclined, get involved in local Alzheimer’s Awareness activities.

We can do our best to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios in life. However, when a loved one is unexpectedly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it’s especially important to have all your financial concerns in place while the loved one is mentally capable of making important decisions.

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