Extracted from Chapter 3 of “Living Well with Alzheimer”
Many people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when they still have most of their mental capabilities. It is important to start thinking about and planning for the future early on. It may be difficult to start thinking about the future when the diagnosis is recent, but it is important to plan while you have the ability to reason and choose what you would want to do. Then, when the time comes, your caregivers will be prepared to implement the decisions for you.
AD can be costly. Even though most doctor appointments and hospital costs are covered under Canada’s healthcare system, there may be out-of-pocket expenses. Medication may or may not be covered, depending on where you live, your financial circumstances, and whether you have a supplemental drug plan. The CCAC may provide some in-home support but not all that you need, and long-term care facilities that meet your standards may not be fully subsidized by the government.
The first step is to gather and organize legal and financial documents you already have so that they are easily found when needed:
Bank account information
Mortgages and other loans outstanding
Real estate and car titles, other assets
Power of Attorney for Property
Power of Attorney for Personal Care
Your will and other legal documents
Once you have organized these documents, you can start to make decisions about who will handle your affairs when the time comes and what your wishes are. Make a clear list of the financial/legal documents you have and keep them in one, easy-to-find place. Tell others where these documents are. You might want to set up any documents you don’t yet have, such as power of attorney and healthcare authorizations.
1. Power of Attorney
This is a legal document that specifies who will be your substitute decision maker for financial and legal matters when you can no longer make your own decisions. Verbal instructions can be valid, but it is recommended that a legal document be executed so there are no questions in an emergency.
2. Power of Attorney for Healthcare
This document names the person who will make decisions for you about healthcare, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene, safety, and consent or refusal of consent to treatment when the time comes. This could be the same person who has your legal power of attorney or it might be a different person.
3. Advanced Directive or Living Will
This document describes your wishes for health care and end-of-life care. Your family will know what kind of care you want when they have to make the difficult decisions.
4. Updated Will
If you are going to make changes to your will, now is the time. Even if you think there are no changes to be made, it is important to review the will, with a lawyer, if possible.
5. Bank Account
The substitute decision maker should be added as a signer to your bank account so they can pay the bills, buy groceries, etc., when you can no longer do so.
“Living Well with Alzheimer’s” is a 38 page e-book focused on valuable information for anyone newly diagnosed and for family caregivers. It contains links to resources, research data and helpful tactics or strategies to keep on living well.