His First Year


Media Resources

March:  Confirmation & preparation.

The doctor delivers the hard fact: Alzheimer’s. Now what the hell do you do?

Chances are you'll start reading, researching online resources. You'll be overwhelmed with advice and information. The task before you will seem huge, impossible. How do you make sense of everything? How do you prepare for all the challenges before you?

But because you care, because you want to do the right thing, you plow into the mass of material. Read memoirs like this one. See what advice the professionals offer. Slowly, it starts to seem like a manageable problem, though one which will leave you still feeling overwhelmed and maybe even a little angry now and then.

It takes time. To adjust your life. To adjust your mindset. To come to terms.

It may seem like you don't have that time – you're already in a care-giving role. That's OK. The truth likely is that you have already started making the necessary adjustments, and the others will come along bit by bit.

One thing you want to see to almost immediately: the legal & financial stuff. Get this done early, so that you can consult with the patient if you need to, get signatures while they are still arguably competent to sign legal papers. Do you need to establish a trust to deal with financial or property matters? Is there a Will in effect? Do you have a Durable Power of Attorney for both Health and Financial decisions? Are there insurance forms which need to be filed? How about applications for government programs? Ideally, we all have this stuff resolved while we're still young and “of sound mind and body,” but all too many people don't get around to it.

I think it can't be too important to stress just how crucial it is to have things like home ownership and property decisions identified early in the process.

Financial factors pertaining to income and ownership, upkeep and maintenance become very important, very quickly.

Friends of mine in Oklahoma had their mom living with them in an in-law apartment; this worked very well for them, as it gave everyone their own living space and privacy, but kept the family close when times of medical or financial duress came about.

If Kathi and I had an in-law apartment for Georgia, and the house itself was in Kathi's name or if we were renting it, we wouldn't have had some of the worries. Fortunately, we were able to gather all the disparate parts and figure out what the status was, then meet with an elder attorney who helped us get everything organized.


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