While losing your keys two or three times a week may be so normal for most of us that we don’t consider it a sign of aging, there are many factors that doctors use to measure the effects of aging on the brain and when it is becoming a problem. And these factors do not have to rise to the level of Alzheimer’s. Anything that interferes with otherwise normal daily activities may eventually have to be addressed by other family members and may be an important part of elder care.
The best way for family members to deal with the potential of these issues before they begin or worsen is to openly communicate about what caregivers will need to make sure that the affairs of the person affected will be tended to as needed. Working with an estate planning attorney who deals with elder care issues should be done early in the process to make sure that someone has power of attorney for financial and health care decisions.
Other steps recommended by caregivers and estate planning attorneys to prepare for elder care include:
–preparing a financial inventory and making finances as easy as possible to deal with. Once the mental capacity starts to diminish, family members can check to make sure that bills are paid each month, especially those that will affect the ongoing care of the person such as health insurance and long-term care insurance;
–monitor the person’s checking accounts and credit reports for any usual activity that may reflect either their own failing judgment, scams or identity theft; and
–make sure estate planning documents are up-to-date and that other items such as investment funds, life insurance, etc., have up-to-date beneficiary designations.
Elder care professionals suggest watching for signs of mental decline such as trouble paying bills on time or at all, difficulty with simple math, making irrational purchases and erratic spending habits beyond their means. If you haven’t already addressed the estate planning issues when you begin to see signs, take action as quickly as possible. Become involved in these decisions before it is too late.