After you get over the shock of a devastating diagnosis of Alzheimers, all sorts of questions start popping into your head. Among the most common are: What should I do first? and How long do we have? You may or may not have a long time to think about the former, so let’s get right to that answer.
Other than the immediate medical decisions that need to be made, such as finding a great neurologist or psychiatric gerontologist, GET YOUR PAPERWORK IN ORDER!
Call a lawyer and make certain that all of your legal documents are in place while your loved one can still make decisions with you.
Use this check list:
- Is there a Living Will in order?
- Establish durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney (A.K.A. Health Care Directive)
- HIPAA document so that you can get to your patients medical information
- Names of all contacts for finances: banker, life insurance agent, business partners, etc.
- Location of any bank deposit box and other assets
- Login name and Passwords for all online and social media accounts
Discuss with the patient their wishes for long-term health care and final arrangements at death. This won’t be a pleasant conversation to have – some people want to be involved in the process and some will not because they are too far into the disease or possibly in denial. Regardless, these are decision that MUST be made, for your sake and theirs.
Check with your financial institution for Right Of Survivorship on your joint checking accounts. You don’t want to be frozen out of your accounts until the estate is settled after death. Check insurance accounts for successors. These documents are often out of date and can list relatives who have died or exes who are no longer in the picture. Carefully check the titling of assets and beneficiaries. Again, most of us need an attorney to help out with these tasks – but this is money that I find to be very well spent!!!
If you are the principal caregiver, your papers need to be in order as well. Should something happen to you, all bases need to be covered for the person you are caring for. Clear directives need to be established so that there can be continuous care for your loved one. When you get the patient’s papers together, make sure that your wishes are known and documented as well.