Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and degenerative disease which affects the brain, causing difficulties with memory, behavior and the gradual loss of multiple mental functions and abilities. It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million American's currently suffer from Alzheimer's disease, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
The disease is the result of the destruction and death of nerve cells, causing memory failure, personality changes, problems carrying out daily activities and other symptoms. Biopsies of those who have died from Alzheimer's show amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain as well as the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) - all of which explain the degeneration of the brain's capabilities to function properly during the course of Alzheimer's disease.
Common Signs and Symptoms
- Memory Loss
- Difficulties with language and communication
- Misplacing items
- Getting lost at familiar places or on familiar routes
- Personality changes and diminishing social skills
- Loss of interest in favorite hobbies and activities
- Difficulty with common and familiar tasks
- Poor judgment
- Difficulty with daily activities
Prevention and Treatment
So far, knowledge on the treatment, cause and prevention of Alzheimer's disease is very limited. Currently there is no cure and no definitive known cause. Generally treatments focus on attempting to slow the progression of the disease, manage behavior problems and symptoms such as confusion, sleep problems and agitation.
As there is no known cause, methods of prevention are highly speculative. It is always recommended that one eat healthy, exercise and avoid habits that negatively affect ones health in order to lesson the odds of later developing Alzheimer's. However, there is no concrete proof that these methods or any other methods will prevent the disease.
What to Do Now?
If you or a loved one are suffering from Alzheimer's, there are some important steps to take.
1. See your physician for an official diagnosis. Be sure to ask questions and get as much information as you can from your practitioner.
2. Make a plan for the future that entails who will serve as a caretaker; would in-home assistance or a nursing home be preferred; how to pay for care; who to designate for important legal, financial and healthcare decisions.
3. Get all legal affairs in order.
Getting Legal Affairs in Order
During the course of Alzheimer's, mental functioning continues to deteriorate, creating an ever increasing need for support and assistance. It is imperative that one or more persons are selected to handle financial, medical, healthcare and other important decisions on the behalf of the individual suffering from Alzheimer's.
Setting up a Power of Attorney (POA), Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) a Living Will and a HIPAA document are imperative. For superior protection of a loved one and their assets, a living trust should also be created. These various documents are crucial for ensuring that your loved one is taken care of and that trustworthy individuals are legally designated to handle important affairs.
Morris Hall (MH) has focused on estate planning for forty years and can help guide you and your loved one in the direction that will best help you prepare for the road ahead. Our attorneys and our life care specialists can help you with everything from legal planning, financial assistance, help for caregivers, additional resources and more.
Find out more information and schedule a free consultation by calling 888.222.1328 or visiting us online at morristrust.com.