There has been a lot of news recently about Alzheimer’s becoming a rapidly growing problem among the elderly. One study indicated that Alzheimer’s cases are likely to double every 20 years, adding to an already devastating problem for many families. Alzheimer’s usually begins with dementia and the gradual loss of cognitive and mental abilities, progressing to the point where the victim needs help to perform nearly all of the activities of daily living. There are several important financial issues related to growing old and here are several things to think about as you help your loved ones through the aging process.
Money Management Abilities Could Diminish Early: One of the signs of dementia and cognitive problems is that routine management of finances becomes a difficult challenge. A recent study found that simple tasks like counting change, writing a check, balancing a checkbook, or interpreting a financial statement become difficult in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s. As your loved ones grow older, you should make it a habit to review their finances and make sure they aren’t having any problems managing their money. Catching problems early can save massive headaches caused by financial mistakes and can be an early indication that other problems are on the horizon.
Power Of Attorney: A power of Attorney is an essential document to have in place for a relative getting older, especially if they are beginning to make questionable decisions. This document is designed to transfer the authority to make decisions from one person to another. For cases where dementia and the onset of Alzheimer’s are a possibility, a durable power of attorney allows the principal to take over the financial decisions for a person who’s unable to make responsible decisions on their own. You can also write a “springing” power of attorney in many states that takes effect in the case that a specified event “springs” up.
Medical Directives: This document outlines the preferences of a person in case of an accident or illness where the person is not able to make a decision for themselves. For instance, in the case of a stroke that incapacitates a victim, the medical directives can be used to dictate how aggressively the medical staff should treat the effects of the stroke. Thinking about these issues before they happen can help a person to have a plan in place in case of an unforeseen accident, sickness, or disease. Your directives can also dictate who should make these important decisions in your behalf.
Will: A Will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your property in the event of your death. To be valid, a will must be in writing, signed, and witnessed by two individuals that must also sign the document. Having a will in place while a person’s mental abilities are still strong will ensure that the individual’s wishes are carried out. Many families are divided after the death of a loved one when there are no specific instructions on the distribution of the estate.