Years ago it was called it senility, but now the label is dementia—often Alzheimer's disease—which is a frighteningly common problem. A recent Bankrate article, "Talking turkey about Alzheimer's," says that this horrible disease affected 5.1 million people this year, and the Alzheimer's Association expects that number to rise to 13.8 million in 2050 – unless there's a breakthrough.
Although combining a conversation about Alzheimer's with a family visit over the holidays may not seem like a great idea, the timing could be right.
Alzheimer's impacts entire families because of the need for caregiving, the potential for its significant expense, as well as the risk that someone will take financial advantage of an Alzheimer's sufferer. The likelihood of Alzheimer's affecting a loved one grows greater as they get older. The time to talk is while everyone can share in a forthright but rational conversation resulting in an agreement on putting protections in place.
A good first step is to speak with an elder law attorney to examine your loved one's will and financial affairs. He or she will offer suggestions for protecting your loved one in the event he or she needs dementia care.
Also, before disease strikes, it's time to consider Medicaid planning. Smart Medicaid management can prevent families from having to spend all of the assets in order to keep a family member in a nursing home. Medicaid "look-back rules" on the transfer of financial assets can be complex, and understanding them in time to react can be particularly important for moderate-income families.
It's also a good idea to put an alert system in place so that your loved one's long-term care policy doesn't lapse.
All of this may seem like a painful conversation to have over a holiday meal, but do it now while you can.
Reference: Bankrate (November 24, 2015) "Talking turkey about Alzheimer's"