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Dementia diagnosis may lead to conservatorship in Colorado courts

She got the dreaded diagnosis at only 49 -- younger onset Alzheimer's disease. At a time when she should have been enjoying her life beside her longtime partner, the Sacramento woman was experiencing baffling memory lapses that not only affected her work performance but also every aspect of the most treasured relationship in her life.

It took a while for things to add up for the couple. At first, the woman's loving partner thought it might be menopause that caused the puzzling lapses, the indifference to making vacation plans and itineraries, or perhaps passive aggression causing the woman to "forget" to make bank deposits or keep up with repairs on jointly owned rental properties.

But neither woman could ignore the problem the day the woman's partner saw her futilely trying to e-mail someone by typing the address into the Google search engine.

At the doctor's office, they were hoping for a diagnosis of a brain tumor ... because cancer can be cured and tumors removed, at least some of the time.

But there is no cure or treatment for the dementia that came with the woman's Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Eventually, the couple began to accept the limitations of the future. The partner helped the Alzheimer's victim apply for disability. Because their state requires a conservatorship to be filed when an employee's medical condition impedes the decision-making process, the women began that process also. They wanted to insure that the woman's wishes would be followed after she was no longer able to communicate her intentions.

Younger onset cases like this account for only about five percent of the total of Alzheimer's diagnoses. But for those diagnosed, it's agonizing to have one's life foreshortened and restricted.

If you or your loved one are experiencing symptoms of dementia at any age, seek immediate medical care to be properly diagnosed. You then may want to schedule a consultation with a Colorado attorney who is familiar with estate planning laws to discuss the suitability of a conservatorship to protect your loved one and his or her estate should the need arise.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Couple's future in tearful turmoil after diagnosis of younger onset Alzheimer's" Anita Creamer, Mar. 10, 2014

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