If you or a family member has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to plan for the future. Discussing these issues with family can be helpful. It’s better to have this conversation sooner than later. This gives the person who has dementia a chance to communicate their desires and answer questions.
Path to improved health
Housing, services, and care
A person who has dementia needs more care as the disease progresses, including:
- Community services: Determine whether services such as adult day care, home health care, respite care, and meal-delivery plans are available in your area.
- Housing: Talk with the person who has dementia and family members to determine where they would like to live when the time comes to move out of their home.
- Long-term care: Research local housing options such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, senior care, and hospice care.
- Caregiver support: If a family member plans to become a caregiver, learn more about local training, counseling, respite care, and support groups.
To find housing, community and caregiver services in your area, visit:
If you have a loved one with dementia, make sure you know where to find their important legal documents. Laws are different in each state and can be confusing. Consider hiring a family lawyer or a lawyer that specializes in elder law to create or update the following legal documents:
- Advance directives: These documents include durable power of attorney for health care, living wills, and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders. They tell doctors and family members what kind of care the person wishes to have when they are no longer able to make medical decisions themself. Have copies of these documents available for family and doctors .
- Durable power of attorney for finances: This document designates a person, usually a family member, a friend, or a professional, to make financial decisions for a person who has dementia when they are no longer able to make these decisions themself.
- Will or living trust: These documents detail how a person’s belongings and assets will be divided after death.
To find information about the laws in your state or to find a lawyer, visit:
Paying for care can be expensive. If your loved one needs help with finances, talk to a professional finance adviser or a lawyer. Take the following steps to reduce financial stress:
- Review finances: Gather all financial and legal documents and to get an accurate picture of current finances and the finances of any family members who may be able to contribute to the cost of care.
- Estimate costs: Determine how much care will cost. Expenses typically include doctors’ visits, prescription drugs and other treatments, community services, and long-term care services.
- Understand insurance coverage: Insurance can help cover costs. The different types of insurance include government insurance programs such as Medicare, private Medicare supplemental insurance (often called Medigap), disability, life, and long-term insurance.
- Apply for government or community assistance: Programs such as Social Security Disability Income and Medicaid can help cover costs. Many community programs offer services at no or low cost.
For more information about insurance coverage and financial assistance programs, visit:
- Alzheimer’s Disease and Caregiving by Family Caregiver Alliance
- Plan Ahead by Alzheimer’s Association
- Financial Matters by BrightFocus Foundation, Alzheimer’s Disease Research
- Legal and Financial Planning by Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
Questions to ask your doctor
- How soon after a dementia diagnosis should the planning begin?
- What if the person resists?
- How many years does a person diagnosed with dementia typically live after diagnosis?
- Is it helpful to engage or hire a patient advocate?
Alzheimer’s Association: Plan for Your Future
BrightFocus Foundation: Alzheimer’s Disease: Legal & Financial Planning
Family Caregiver Alliance: Alzheimer’s Disease and Caregiving
National Institute on Aging: Legal and Financial Planning for People with Dementia
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.