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What Legal Plans Should Be Made After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 8:00 am on

After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, seniors should sit down with their family members to begin the process of legal planning. This will give them the opportunity to state their preferences for treatment while they still have the mental and physical health for doing so. They can also identify their resources and make plans for long-term home care. Following are some of the most important topics to cover during these conversations.

Living Will

Seniors should draft living wills with help from their loved ones and elder law attorneys. These documents outline a senior’s preferences for treatment and care after he or she has become physically or mentally incapacitated. This is also where seniors can record their preferences concerning the use of life support. In some states, it may be necessary to complete a standardized medical form called a Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment in order to ensure that the senior’s wishes concerning life support are upheld.

Legal Capacity and Power of Attorney

Legal capacity determines the capacity of the individual to draft and sign legal documents. Depending upon the progression of Alzheimer’s and the individual’s overall health, signing a Power of Attorney could be necessary for allowing family members to make important legal and financial decisions on the senior’s behalf. A second agent should be named in the Power of Attorney document as well, in case the first agent becomes likewise incapacitated or becomes no longer willing or able to handle these duties.

Final Will and Testament

A living will establishes how a senior will be cared for while living. A standard will, however, or a final will and testament, will outline the way in which personal assets should be disbursed after death. This should include burial preferences, and it will need to name an executor or person who will manage the estate.

Legal Documents to Share with Caregivers

Family caregivers should be given access to important medical and insurance information so that treatment can be easily received when necessary. If family members aren’t close by and your loved one has a 24/7 live-in caregiver, you may also want to ensure he or she has access to relevant medical and insurance information. Medical Release of Information forms can be completed at physicians’ offices to ensure family members have access to important medical documents for settling insurance and end-of-life concerns. Special Hospital Visitation forms may need to be completed as well for seniors who are involved in domestic partnerships.

The days and months immediately following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be challenging and uncertain. However, you, your family, and your senior loved one don’t have to face the future alone. Turn to Home Care Assistance, the leading provider of Alzheimer’s care in Sonoma. Our highly trained and experienced caregivers can help around the home, engage your loved one in mentally stimulating activities, offer emotional support and consistent companionship, and provide safety monitoring. Call (707) 843.4368 to learn more and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.