If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, know you are not alone. Currently, over five million people are living with this diagnosis this year. In our firm, we meet with families just like yours who are actively seeking solutions, education and resources to teach them what they need to know and how to plan ahead.

In the early stages of the diagnosis, most people can still function independently. Driving, critical thinking and working are all viable options. If you choose to continue to work during the early stages of the disease, you may be eligible for extra benefits including extended sick leave, short-term disability benefits or a flexible healthcare spending account. Be sure to review your employer’s benefits handbook and speak to the benefits specialist at your company. There may also be benefits from the company retirement plans that you are eligible for, even if you have not yet reached retirement age.

This is the time, before the condition progresses, when it is crucial to put your financial and legal plans in place. Now is the time to seek the advice of your trusted, professional advisors such as your financial planner and your elder law attorney. Financially, Alzheimer’s Disease can be destructive without pre-planning. You need a plan in place to know how you will be able to pay for long-term care in your home or in a long-term care facility. Both options can be expensive and easily drain a lifetime of savings in a few short years.

In addition to the financial considerations, it is time to put a comprehensive legal plan in place if you have not already done so. Together with your attorney, you can select a primary and secondary decision maker to make healthcare and financial decisions. Bear in mind, you may want to choose different individuals for each responsibility that is needed. It is critical to also consider creating a living will as a part of the estate plan that will govern your end of life decisions, including a terminal condition or a persistent vegetative state.

After you have determined how you will pay for long-term care and have created an estate plan that honors your wishes, remember that planning at this time is also about your legacy. This is the time to meet with your loved ones and discuss not only your goals for your disease but for your legacy. You can decide now how you want to be remembered.  Begin now to share family history that few know, create family photo albums and spend as much time with your family as possible.

We know the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease is emotionally taxing on everyone involved. It is important to cherish the moments you have together, care for one another, and be compassionate. For more information on how to move forward with this diagnosis, do not wait to contact us.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.

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