If you or a family member has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to start planning for the future. Talk over the issues below with your family. It’s better to do this sooner than later, to ensure that the person who has dementia has a chance to communicate his or her desires and answer questions.
Housing, services, and care
A person who has dementia often needs more care as the disease progresses. Talk with family members about how you’ll handle these needs.
- Community services: Find out whether services such as adult day care, home health care, respite care, and meal-delivery plans are available in your area.
- Housing: Let family members know where you’d like to live when the time comes for you to move out of your home.
- Long-term care: Research local housing options such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and hospice care.
- Caregiver support: If a family member plans to become a caregiver, look into local training, counseling, and support groups.
To find housing, community and caregiver services in your area, visit:
Make sure family members know where to find 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 help you 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 your doctor and your family members what kind of care you want when you are no longer able to make medical decisions yourself. Make sure family members and your doctor have copies of these documents.
- 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 you when you are no longer able to make these decisions yourself.
- Will or living trust: These documents detail how your belongings and assets will be divided after your death.
To find information about the laws in your state or to find a lawyer, visit:
Paying for care can be very expensive. If you need help with finances, talk to a professional finance adviser or a lawyer. Take the following steps to help reduce financial stress:
- Review finances: Gather all financial and legal documents and try to get an accurate picture of your current finances and the finances of any family members who may be able to contribute to the cost of care.
- Estimate costs: Try to figure out how much your care will cost. Expenses typically include doctors’ visits, prescription drugs and other treatments, community services, and long-term care services.
- Understand your 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 ( , http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=567)
- Plan Ahead by Alzheimer’s Association ( , http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_15768.asp)
- Financial Matters by BrightFocus Foundation, Alzheimer’s Disease Research ( , http://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/livingwith/financialmatters.html )
- Legal and Financial Planning by Alzheimer’s Foundation of America ( , http://www.alzfdn.org/LegalandFinancialPlanning/planning.html)
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.