A woman we know that was diagnosed early with Alzheimer’s decided to go Disney World with her children and grandchildren that same year while she could still enjoy it and to give them a memorable trip before she started to decline.
That is one way to handle such a diagnosis.
In “Facing financial reality when early dementia is diagnosed,” The Washington Post discusses more serious matters and some of the financial repercussions of the disease, noting that mishandling money and leaving bills unpaid can be sometimes be one of the signs of dementia. Even if someone does not mishandle money, dementia can make it difficult to continue to earn money. Dementia can mean leaving the workforce sooner than expected. Family members may also take a financial hit since they may stop working to care for a relative with dementia or raid their own retirement savings to cover medical costs.
The article includes an interview with one financial planner who felt that he was not able to help a couple in their 80s—the wife had dementia but had also worked in finance so she resented his assistance and the husband felt the strain of having to make decisions he hadn’t made before.
(This past November, Clarity Financial Planning, LLC attended the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners (ACP) conference where the Advance Financial Directive for Cognitive Decline was discussed and it will be integrated into our financial planning process for clients that need it.)
Since the cost of medical care for patients with dementia can run very high, The Washington Post advises,
“The best way to avoid problems is to take steps when your mental abilities are sound to protect yourself if they fail in the future…[including] having a health-care power of attorney or living will naming someone you trust to make health-care decisions if you are incapable, designating someone to take care of your finances and having a regular will to distribute your assets when you die. The National Institute on Aging has a very good fact sheet on legal and financial planning.”