The early stage of Alzheimer’s Disease is a time for preparation.
And yet thinking about the future can quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed. So let’s keep things manageable. Let’s think in terms of questions.
If your aging parent is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, below are the two questions I think you should ask yourself. Your answers will guide you to the most important next steps to take so you can be sure you’re covering your bases.
Question 1: Is mom/dad safe at home?
Safety is the most important concern when it comes to your aging parent with Alzheimer’s because it’s a theme that runs through so much of daily life.
So think about your mom’s or dad’s daily routine then consider what’s below. Can you say yes to each of the four bullets? If so, you can check the safety box and move along.
- Meals can be prepared safely
- There is a system in place to ensure that mom/dad can take medications as directed
- He/She can safely get to and from appointments
- A trusted person is able to assist with paying bills so that finances are safeguarded
Question #2: Has your parent designated someone to make health and financial decisions when they are unable to do so?
If the answer is yes, you are WAY ahead of the game. Great job. If not, it’s okay. But here’s your next step: Take a deep breath and start the conversation.
It may not be easy, but you’ll be relieved that you did. Health care power of attorney forms vary by state, but luckily the U.S. Living Will Registry offers a link to the forms that are acceptable in each state. You can find that information here.
Financial power of attorney forms may require an elder law attorney, but you can also check with the bank(s) in which your mom or dad holds accounts as these institutions often have their own forms.
Other insights for the early stage of Alzheimer’s
For your aging parent:
In the early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s wandering is common. One of the best first things you can do if this is happening or if you’re concerned it might is to apply for a Safe Return bracelet through the Alzheimer’s Association. You may also want to find out if there are any reputable friendly visitor programs in the area as these can serve as an extra set of eyes and ears.
Speaking of the Alzheimer’s Association, I can’t recommend their trainings and support services highly enough and I would NOT be that emphatic if I didn’t really feel that way.
Call them day or night at 1-800-272-3900 and above all get connected with your local chapter. There are classes to help you understand the disease and to walk you through the legal steps I mentioned above as well as support groups that will put you in the company of others who understand where you are and what you’re going through.
Nothing is more powerful than learning that you’re not alone. And as it is with many things, the earlier the better.