Learning that your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will bring a flood of worries and emotions. You’ll feel shock, grief, fear, and anger. You’ll wonder how you can help them and what changes will take place, both for them and for you. This will be a difficult time. In the midst of this whirlwind, though, know that there are decisions to be made, and it’s better to tackle them now rather than put them off. The earlier you do so, the easier it will be for everyone, and the more chance you have of making sure your loved one is involved in the process.
1. Who will take care of your loved one’s finances and medical decisions when they can no longer act on their own behalf?
This is never an easy conversation, but it’s an essential one for all adult children to have with their parents. Hopefully, you’ll be able to discuss this while your parent is still competent enough to make arrangements, and you can get their wishes in writing. An attorney who specializes in elder issues can be a helpful guide, and the Alzheimer’s Association also provides a number of useful resources.
2. Who will care for your loved one?
Don’t assume that a particular person, whether it’s your parent’s spouse or your sister who lives five miles from your parent, will be the one to take on the primary caregiving responsibilities. No one wants such a large commitment foisted upon them. Remember that someone with Alzheimer’s eventually will require constant care, and that may not be something that anyone in your family is able to provide. Those closest to the patient should meet to discuss expectations and the feasibility of different possible situations.
3. Where will your loved one call home?
Most seniors will want to stay in their own home as long as possible, but at some point it’s likely that this living arrangement will no longer be viable. Think about how easy their current residence will be for them to navigate as the disease progresses and as they continue to age. Consider both having your parent move to be closer to family and choosing an assisted living facility or board and care home.
It may seem next to impossible to tackle these big decisions during such an emotional time. But you’ll be glad later that you’ve moved forward on taking charge of the situation. You can’t control the diagnosis, but you can influence how you and your family begin to move ahead.