10 Important Steps in Helping a Loved One With Dementia Put Their Affairs in Order

Guest Contributor Ginger Abbot on Memory Cafe Directory

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Helping a Loved One With Dementia Put Their Affairs in Order

Submitted by Guest Contributor
Ginger Abbot

When your loved one receives a dementia diagnosis, your life will shift into a period of adjustment. Just over 6.2 million Americans with dementia have had to ask relatives or close friends for assistance to prepare for their upcoming challenges associated with memory loss.

This guide explains everything you need to know about how to help a loved one with dementia with their affairs so you don’t feel lost while making their next few years as comfortable as possible.

1 Declare Their Power of Attorney

If a person can’t make decisions regarding their financial situation or health care needs, their power of attorney can handle things for them. The title allows you to legally make decisions with their doctor and monitor your loved one’s estate. Contact your local county office of the register of deeds to discuss paperwork and filing fees. States and counties outline the process differently.

This is also an excellent opportunity to contact a lawyer. If you have questions, they can help you navigate the power of attorney filing process. They’ll also know how to help a person with dementia write a will or arrange medical plans if you’re overwhelmed with using your power of attorney privileges.

2 Discuss Their Preferred Health Care Directives

Once you can make health care decisions on your loved one’s behalf, talk about what they’d prefer to do as their health degrades. Would they want to remain in a coma to get the best chance of recovering from a stroke? Would they prefer to sign Do Not Resuscitate paperwork so they don’t have to continue living with their condition if they flatline?

These advanced end-of-life directives are crucial for people with dementia and their loved ones. You won’t bear the burden of questioning what they’d prefer to do if they explain everything while they’re still able to communicate their wishes.

3 Establish a Will

An elder law attorney will understand how to help a person with dementia write a will, so contact one when you’re both ready to work through the legal paperwork. They’ll set up a will to distribute property and assets in the event of your loved one’s death. They’ll also understand if your family member or close friend needs a trust, which differs from a will because it holds personal property in a trustee’s name while the settlor is still alive.

Getting legal assistance is crucial for making a will official. Your attorney will ensure that every line is valid by verifying your loved one has the physical and mental capacity to create a will for themselves.

4 Talk About Living Arrangement Options

Although your loved one may be able to take care of themselves right after receiving their diagnosis, eventually they’ll need help. Ask if they would prefer an in-house caregiver or a living facility when they need someone to cook for them or care for their personal needs. Your family will have more peace knowing that your loved one is receiving the care they prefer when the time comes.

5 Adjust Their Home Environment

You should make simple adjustments to your loved one’s home environment to ensure their safety and comfort. Make a list of their passwords for places like bank websites and personal accounts. You can control if they’re able to make purchases or financial decisions on their own once their decision-making abilities begin to decline.

It’s also wise to put their phone number on the national Do Not Call registry. Many seniors fall victim to scams because criminals call and demand exorbitant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fees or offer estate planning templates. If the scammers reach you first, you can report them before they get the chance to hurt your loved ones.

6 Start Handling Their Bills

Start managing your loved one’s bills as early as possible. If you run into any problems, they can clarify purchases or routine expenses before you have to handle them on your own. Contact each of their financial institutions to become their legal proxy and you’ll have the legal right to manage their finances.

When people ask an expert about how to help someone put their affairs in order, this is often one of the first recommended steps. It’s much more challenging to sort through fees, bills, and debt while your loved one can still explain the situation and provide context for any questions you might have.

7 Research Care Cost Options

Even people who saved for their retirement for decades often don’t have enough money to cover long-term care costs out-of-pocket. Talk with your loved one about their preferred care methods and research ways to help them cover the related expenses.

Medicare or Medicaid could partially or fully pay for a personal care assistant or home health aide, depending on your loved one’s financial situation and where they live.

You can also contact local living facilities to discuss their financial support options. Many people can’t pay for the care they need, so numerous arrangements are available for anyone who reaches out to their health insurance provider or a living facility team.

8 Look Into Insurance Plans

There’s also specific long-term care insurance that you can purchase separately from a health insurance plan. The long-term care plan will include coverage for things like monthly facility bills, home health costs, and even adult day care centers. You’ll find the best insurance for your loved one after they clarify which forms of care they’d prefer.

As you read about how to help someone put their affairs in order, make a special note to compare insurance packages. It’s something you’ll have to do after finalizing details for their care directives or will, so many people forget to look into it. Insurance could help you get your loved one the best care possible after you know what they want for their future.

9 Gather Their Legal Documents

Arrange a time to gather your loved one’s legal documents while they can still tell you where they’ve kept everything over the years. You’ll need the original forms to file paperwork related to their care or after they pass.

Find the original copies of critical documents like:

  • Their birth certificate
  • Their Social Security card
  • Their will
  • The deed to their house
  • Any stock or bond certificates

Keep these things with other documents like the lease to their car and any additional property they own. An attorney can help you make a list of necessary legal forms and strategize where to keep them, like a lockbox at a bank or a fireproof safe in your home.

10 Arrange Revoking Certain Privileges

Talking about revoking your loved one’s privileges is an uncomfortable conversation. No one likes to think about losing their driver’s license or their autonomy in their own home, but it’s necessary to help them agree to a timeline. You’ll have to take those things away when it becomes unsafe for your loved one to drive around or live alone.

It’s a difficult discussion, but you’ll know you’re doing the right thing when the time comes.

Put Their Affairs in Order

Anyone can use this guide to learn how to help a loved one with dementia with their affairs. Once you know how to work through issues like collecting legal documents, arranging your loved one’s will, and discussing their care preferences, you’ll be in a better position to keep them comfortable as their dementia progresses.

About the Author: Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot is a career and lifestyle writer. Read more of her work on the learning publication Classrooms.






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