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When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the challenges are multifaceted and daunting. The emotional strain on family and friends who become caregivers to the patient can be overwhelming. They often become distressed seeing their loved one change behaviors, or struggle to remember, recognize their own surroundings, or communicate effectively.

Caregiving can be physically demanding as well. Alzheimer’s patients sometimes need constant, careful supervision to ensure their safety and take care of their needs. As Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that presents in stages, patients in a mid to late stage require more attention. It can be helpful for caregivers to find personal time for exercise or meditation, to pay attention to their own health concerns and stress levels.

Watching a loved one slip away is difficult enough, but there can also be financial concerns that add to the frustration and stress. Caregivers, who many times are spouses, often juggle the responsibility of managing the patient’s and the household’s finances. It is no surprise that about 40% of caregivers for dementia patients suffer from depression.

The drain on financial resources for obtaining home care assistance can be devastating, especially if the afflicted person lives for many years after the diagnosis. A person’s – or a couple’s – life savings can easily be eaten up, paying for care. Early planning can help protect most of your (or the afflicted person’s) savings, enabling the patient to maintain his or her lifestyle as long as possible without becoming impoverished. Even later stage planning, when the Alzheimer’s/dementia sufferer is about to enter a nursing home, can protect a significant portion of the patient’s savings.

Seeking legal advice from a reputable Elder Law attorney as soon as possible after diagnosis gives you the best chance to protect and safeguard the financial resources of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The sufferer will have the best opportunity possible to live out his or her life in comfort and dignity. You can also be relieved of some of the stress and anxiety that accompany seeing their, or your, life savings being completely exhausted by the cost of care.

The role of the caregiver for the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient will always be unique, depending on the circumstances. Understanding the disease, and adapting to your loved one’s needs, can be both challenging and rewarding.

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