Have you heard that, by 2050, the number of people living with dementia around the world is expected to triple to more than 150 million people? World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21, was established as an international campaign to raise dementia awareness and challenge stigmas associated with such a diagnosis. A collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes impacting memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion, Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia are the most common types of dementia and are said to represent up to 90% of cases.
While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, research suggests some things that may work to prevent a diagnosis of such a disease. In other words, despite the mistaken belief that dementia may be an inevitable part of aging, you may be able to take steps to prevent this from occurring. As a general rule of thumb, it appears that what may be good for your heart may be good for your brain.
This means it can be a good thing to remain physically active and follow a healthy diet. Continue to challenge your brain with new activities. Enjoy social activities. Avoid things like smoking. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity can all contribute to developing dementia later in life. If you have heart disease, seek out effective treatment as soon as possible.
While important for everyone, it can be even more important that individuals who have been diagnosed acquire legal help in planning their affairs as soon as possible. The sooner these plans are put in place, the more likely that the person living with dementia will be able to play an active role in the process.
In considering estate planning for an individual diagnosed with dementia, you should be aware of certain legal tools that may be good to have in place. These include:
- Healthcare documents. Such documents may include a health care surrogate that establishes a friend or family member to make health care decisions for the impacted individual in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated. A living will may also be an important document to have in place as it sets forth the specific types of care that an individual does or does not want at end of life stages of treatment.
- Durable power of attorney for finances. This can establish someone to take over financial decisions and control of accounts on behalf of the impacted individual until death or until it is revoked.
- A Will and/or Trust. These can be used to establish who should receive which assets upon the passing of an individual. An attorney can explain the differences in these documents and prepare them for you.
For help with these legal issues and more, feel free to reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.