Did you know that June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month? The annual campaign is a tremendous opportunity for seniors, their families, and caregivers to partner with health care and legal communities across the country. It is an occasion to raise awareness about an issue impacting millions of people and secure much-needed resources for those in need.
Alzheimer’s Disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that degrades memory, thinking, and behavior. It is estimated that more than 5.8 million Americans are living with the disease. The impact of Alzheimer’s also extends to caregivers. Alzheimer’s involves declining mental capabilities and entails life-threatening end-stages.
In fact, Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. There is currently no known cure. Early detection, however, offers the best chance for effective treatment and sustained quality of life. Let us review several tips for approaching a senior loved one when they are first exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:
1. Assess the situation. Are you noticing adverse cognitive changes, such as memory loss, confusion, and diminished problem-solving abilities? Has anyone else noticed? Consider cataloging unsettling incidents for a period of time and reviewing them with a family member, friend, or doctor. Aging involves a certain amount of forgetfulness and confusion, especially when combined with some prescription medications and health challenges. Creating a record could help determine whether Alzheimer’s is taking root or if your concerns are part of the normal aging process.
2. Confront the issue. Acknowledging a potential problem is the first step in dealing with it. Confronting an elder loved one about their mental health is a sensitive task that should be handled with great care. Talk with other family members before approaching the senior adult and decide whether it is best to have a one-on-one meeting or family conversation. Address the elder loved one’s concerns with honesty and compassion. Make sure to respect their dignity.
3. Seek professional guidance. According to the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association, a skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease with more than 90 percent accuracy. Contacting a senior adult’s primary care doctor or an internist is a solid first step. Make sure any follow-up appointments are conducted by a physician with whom the senior adult feels comfortable.
A positive diagnosis is life-changing, but it is no reason to panic. There are many Alzheimer’s support organizations, memory loss assistance programs, and caring professionals who are available to help with health challenges and legal considerations, such as creating a durable power of attorney for a loved one to make decisions on behalf of the elder adult’s. Our law office is committed to providing legal support to those impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease. Get in touch with us to schedule a meeting. We are here to help.