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Pay attention to signs of Alzheimer's in a loved one

According to SeniorLiving.org, President Reagan designated November as Alzheimer's Awareness Month in 1983 at a time when not even 2 million people had the illness, a well-known form of dementia. The numbers have increased to over 5 million people with the disease today.

Many of our clients have or care for loved ones with Alzheimer's and other dementia or cognitive impairments. These clients may come to us for assistance with incapacity planning, services and public benefits, and financial protections for their vulnerable family members or friends. For example, we may help with:

  • Financial power of attorney
  • Guardianship or conservatorship
  • Special-needs trusts and other trusts
  • Estate planning
  • Medicaid planning
  • Gift tax advice
  • Medical power of attorney or living wills
  • Long-term care planning
  • Medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid
  • Long-term care placement such as in assisted living or a nursing home
  • Quality of care and elder abuse

Start planning as early as possible

If you or a loved one senses that a cognitive impairment may be developing, it is good to consult with a physician - perhaps a specialist in gerontology or neurology - as soon as possible. If Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed early, medical interventions may slow the inevitable progression, giving the person more meaningful years. In addition, planning can include putting safety supports in place and taking legal action before the disease worsens.

Signs of Alzheimer's onset

The Colorado chapter of the Alzheimer's Association provides a checklist of symptoms to watch for:

  • Memory loss, especially short term
  • Personality and mood changes, including agitation and depression
  • Losing track of items and sometimes saying they were stolen
  • Trouble with concentration or with numbers
  • Challenges with daily tasks
  • Problems with time or location
  • Visual impairment, including with spatial relationships and reading
  • Trouble with conversations and word choice
  • Difficulty with judgment such as with money scams or hygiene
  • Social withdrawal or stopping engagement with hobbies

Anyone concerned about themselves or a loved one who may have some of these problems should immediately seek medical attention and consult a lawyer to begin to plan for a safer and more fulfilling future.

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