One of my estate planning colleagues, Lizette Sundvick, who practices in Nevada recently penned this comment on dementia cover-ups. Her post occurred after reading this “The Danger of Your Aging Parent Covering Up Dementia” article in Forbes (August 11, 2011)
Here’s what’s important: it doesn’t matter if you have a diagnosis for your aging parent or not. It matters how your aging parent functions. It matters how you deal with what you see.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly common, but even if we are beginning to become more and more aware of how to spot them, it doesn’t make it any easier. Many a reader will be familiar with the terrible uncertainty and concern over their elderly parent’s thinking. Fortunately, Carolyn Rosenblatt of Forbes has more advice to give in her recent article.
Among the many dangers to keep in mind when an elderly loved one starts “slipping” is that they may begin “hiding” it. For one thing, it is not something with which any senior looks forward to acknowledging, even if they are aware of some telltale symptoms. It is human nature.
We all compensate or distract when there is something to hide, both from ourselves and from others. But when something like Alzheimer’s is at stake, it can be all the more difficult to get past, and it is harmful to hide. Indeed, since there is no actual test for dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is possible that a doctor will be unable to diagnose those conditions.
It is important, therefore, to observe how your loved one functions. Keep a keen eye on them and know what you are seeing, for their own sake. The original article has more advice and anecdotes to offer, but Ms. Rosenblatt sums up the steps in four points. As soon as you begin to worry you must, first, persuade your loved one to visit a doctor, and a specialist if possible, to detect it early. Second, you must secure their estate planning documents while they have legal capacity to know and understand what they are doing. Third, you must secure proper care for them. Fourth and last, you have to discuss the circumstances openly with all family members, so all may be aware of the circumstances and can work together to protect your loved one.
Good estate planning should take into consideration the healthcare and power of attorney documents needed to insure a smoother transition for proper care in this type of situation. As articles, like this one in Forbes, raise our awareness of the growing painfulness of dementia and Alzheimer’s, you or your loved one may want to update your existing plan or design a new plan. We can help. Our office is available to take your call to schedule an appointment.