For older adults and their family members, few medical issues are more frightening than dementia. One of the reasons people are so anxious about Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is how it results in dementia and cognitive decline, in many cases.
Whether a doctor has recently diagnosed someone with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or another condition that generally results in dementia, there are two important concerns that the individual or their closest family members will likely need to address.
The upcoming spike in care costs
What it costs to provide medical support for an older adult will drastically increase when they have dementia. They will often need to move into a family member’s home or an assisted care facility. They will require around-the-clock monitoring and support to prevent accidents and elopement. Especially when someone has previously lived independently and stayed in their own home, a diagnosis with a condition that causes dementia will likely mean big changes to their daily lifestyle and their household budget. They may soon require Medicaid or other support to cover nursing home costs or in-home nursing support.
A likely loss of testamentary capacity
The diagnosis of a condition related to dementia will eventually mean that the adult no longer has the authority to engage in legal decision-making on their own behalf. Older adults in Colorado who update their estate plans or try to put protective paperwork in place may be unable to do so if they wait until after learning about a condition that will affect their mental acuity. While a diagnosis won’t automatically strip someone of their testamentary authority, it will provide a starting point for a challenge, which can be expensive and complicated. Those that plan ahead of time before their diagnosis and that act quickly to settle matters for their own comfort and protection after their diagnosis will have less to worry about regarding covering the cost of their care and maintaining control over their lives.
Advance planning that includes durable powers of attorney, and possibly trusts, can help people to directly influence what care they receive and cover the costs of their treatment even after suffering incapacity. Understanding how medical changes result in personal challenges may benefit those who are planning their estates or providing support for aging loved ones.