The silver lining to an early diagnosis is that you can prepare and plan for dementia and Alzheimer’s to ensure you can still enjoy your life, and be financially stable, even when you’re struggling with memory and cognitive issues.
Those who face dementia can find a group of supportive friends who are going through the same thing at memory cafes or through Alzheimer’s Speaks. You can vent and commiserate with your support group, but you’ll also find them sharing experiences and celebrating victories.
While the support alone is invaluable, these groups are important because the offer sage wisdom that’s on point:
- You can learn from those who’ve been dealing with dementia for years about how to avoid dementia triggers.
- Seeing other people living their life despite their memory issues will give you hope for your own future.
- Support groups help keep loneliness at bay; it’s important to know you’re not alone when dealing with Alzheimer's or dementia.
Legal & Medical Decisions
Consider making legal and medical choices ahead of time while you still have the capacity to understand your values and needs. Those with dementia and Alzheimer’s can designate a power of attorney, and can even give that person specific, written, instructions about what to do in certain scenarios.
For example, if your priority is to keep your dementia at bay for as long as possible, you can instruct your power of attorney to only consent to treatments and medications that don’t make your dementia worse. If you have other strong feelings about what kind of treatments and medications are right for you (or those you wish to avoid), then take the time now to make your wishes clear.
There are also decisions to make about your finances, living arrangements, and how to meet your medical costs. I recently shared my expertise as a Certified Financial Planner,™ with the New York Times by providing information about how to plan for these costs. As I explain in that article “we go through the different levels of care, and what each level costs, and then we plan for the worst-case scenario.”
You can protect your assets from the cost of your care, sometimes by drawing up preservation trusts to disperse your funds to family or to pay for costs that Medi-Cal doesn’t cover. The sooner you can start this process the better, as large gifts may disqualify you for Medi-Cal depending on when you made them.
Even if you have made a gift during the “look-back” period, you may either be eligible or ineligible for benefits depending on how much you gave away and when. Unlike other states, there are strategies that can be utilized to protect assets while still being able to qualify for benefits very quickly.
Often, people have, what I call “booger assets”. These are assets that are difficult to deal with.
Examples include vacant land, time shares, life insurance and annuities. If a crisis happens having these types of assets may make one ineligible for benefits.
The earlier you start planning, the more options that you and your family will have.
Karl Kim, CFP®, CLTC is the President of Retirement Planning Advisors, Inc., RPA Tax Group, LLC and a Medi-Cal specialist. He is the author of “Don’t Go Broke Paying the Nursing Home” available on Amazon. His office is located in La Mirada. He can be reached at 714-994-0599 or at www.RetirementCrisisPlanning.com. This is meant to be an educational article. Do not make any decisions solely on the information in this article. Consult your tax advisor, attorney or financial advisor before taking any action.