Financial Considerations after an Alzheimer's Diagnosis
by Timothy R. Boyle, AAMS®, CRPC®
October 25, 2018
Having a parent or loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is a scary time filled with anxiety and fear of the unknown. As you are learning to cope with a new reality for your family and are spending time with your loved one, you may not have the energy to research how to manage the financial implications of the diagnosis.
After an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, there are a few important points to consider:
First, think about who needs to know. How will you tell your kids and grandkids? How will you tell your friends? This would also be a good time to contact those who you’ve hired to help you, such as your CPA, your attorney, and your financial advisor.
Ask your medical provider about the diagnosis. How advanced is it? How rapidly might it progress? You may need to consider in-home supervision to make sure your loved one doesn’t have problems while they are home alone, such as getting lost doing something as simple as walking around the neighborhood.
While you can, talk with your family member about what they wish for their future care. Where would they like to live? Who would they like to manage their care?
Review your loved one’s estate planning documents. These include wills, durable powers of attorney, and healthcare directives. Do any updates need to be made? Also, check with their financial institutions and make sure that whoever will have power of attorney is correctly setup to transact business on your loved one’s behalf when needed.
Review their long-term care policy, if they have one. What does it cover, and how does it pay out? Depending on their assets, liabilities and insurance situation, you will also need to research private pay vs. medicaid. If you decide it best to get your loved one qualified for medicaid, you likely will need some help as it can be a very intensive and complicated process.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, it is important to have a plan for regular check-ins with your loved one to evaluate their changing ability to manage their own affairs. Be on alert for trouble with credit card overspending, elder abuse scams, and people trying to take advantage of them in their diminished mental capacity.
When it is time to make the transition to a memory care facility, it can help to work with a patient advocacy group. In Seattle, we often work with Aging Wisdom. They can assist with many issues such as facility selection and coordinating proper care. Let them or someone like them help — they’ve done this before. This is not the time to figure out as you go.
We realize no list of action items can ease the fear of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in your family. As your financial advisor, our goal is to lighten your load by navigating this process with you, giving you more time to spend with your family.
If we can help, or if you have any questions, please reach out.