My grandfather has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer, what steps should I take now to prepare for his condition before it gets worse?
The steps you can take right now are to get as much education about this dreaded disease and also mentally prepare yourself. I can help with the first part, but preparing yourself mentally is always a tough one. I'll give you some advice on this as well. I would start with the Alzheimer's Association and The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) websites. They will keep you up-to-date on just about everything that is happening with this disease. AFA provides you with finding local support groups (Link below). This is where the mental preparation comes in. Talking to people, friends and family members that have gone through this as well as people like you that are going through this now will help you.
Senior Helpers has a free DVD of their GEMS Program that you can request from their website. This DVD is designed for family members to better understand the disease and what they should expect as your grandfather progresses through the different stages. (Link below)
Now is the time to start a memory book(s) for your grandfather. This will come in handy down the line when his memory gets worse. It's always a calming effect to sit with him and look at book and discuss the past. Include pictures from other family members that were taken with him. Music is most important. Start collecting the music he likes. He will always have music to remember. Another thing I like to suggest in the early stage is to interview him. This isn't for everyone because it takes a lot of time. If it is... ask him questions about his past and record it (audio or video). This will give you an opportunity to research these things in more detail and then you can add them to the memory book. People that did this told me that this was remarkable. They learned things they never knew. After all this... come back and let me know how it's going. I'll suggest some other things.
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Get him to an elderlaw attorney NOW!!!!!!! and get his Power of Attorney, WIll and Health care directives updated, because once he becomes incapacitated then you cannot change any legal document nor create any for him. Then, get a full financial assessment from a fee only financial planner who specializes in eldercare.
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An Elder Care Attorney can guide families through this process. The process begins with a review of any Estate Planning Documents your grandfather may have (and if they don’t have any it is time to make sure they do). Estate planning documents would include Powers of attorney, medical directive, a Will and a trust, if appropriate. It is important to update the documents to make sure that your grandfather has a plan for what happens when you don’t die but need long term care. A long term care plan will prepare for the inevitable need for long term care, making sure plans are in place so that your grandfather can qualify for public benefits such as Medicaid and Veteran’s Benefits. Long Term Planning is designed to leverage and protect assets. The goal is to make sure that as the family travels this road that your grandfather is able to get the care they need and that their money lasts until the end of life. The road can be long and there will be many choices along the way: Can grandfather stay at home with caregivers? Which Assisted Living is best? Does grandfather need Skilled Care? How can we pay for this? What do we do next? An elder care/law attorney can help with these decisions and the choices are not the same for each family, which is why you would want to work with one that creates a relationship with the clients and their families that starts with updating their planning while they can continue to provide advocacy and guidance along the way.
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