It is an emotional time when it becomes necessary for adult children to look for memory care for parents and loved ones. The process becomes even more challenging when you find you may not have properly planned for it.
PLANNING FOR THE WORST
"So many people are in denial at first," says Byron Cordes, a geriatric-care manager. He recommends going to a memory clinic, neurologist or geriatric assessment clinic for tests as soon as you suspect a problem.
Because Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, families usually have more time to plan than they do with an immediate trauma, such as a stroke. But because Alzheimer's can last such a long time, it's best to start planning for the next steps right away, even if your long-term-care policy or savings will pay for the first few years of care.
For example, if it makes sense to spend down assets to qualify for Medicaid, you would need to give money to your children more than five years before applying.
Also, if you have a state partnership-eligible long-term-care policy--now available in most states--you can protect more of your assets if you do eventually go on Medicaid. If you buy a partnership policy that covers a total of $200,000 of care, for example, the patient can qualify for Medicaid after exhausting the benefits but still keep $200,000 in assets.
After a confirmed diagnosis, sit down with your family and talk about what you want.
"You're not going to be able to make those decisions in the future," Cords notes. Talk about where you want to live and what type of care you want to receive.
A geriatric care manager can help with these decisions and may find benefits you didn't realize you were eligible for, such as special aid for veterans.
Get a power of attorney and health-care proxy so your spouse or children can make financial and medical decisions later on. An elder-law attorney can draft those documents and help with Medicaid planning.
Ask whether your bank needs additional legal documents. Some require their own power of attorney forms even if you have one from a lawyer, and that can be complicated after the Alzheimer's has progressed.