My Dad passed away last week from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.  I first wrote of our family’s journey with Alzheimer’s in the August 14 blog

[click here] and then again last week [click here].  In this final chapter, I share a few more lessons we have learned in our journey that can be applied universally.

1. Don’t make the mistake of assuming ‘it’ cannot happen to you.  As people live longer, the number of elderly with memory/cognition impairment rises, along with the need for assistance.  Circumstances can change in an instant. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.  More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Click here to read

 2. Make known in advance the kind of medical care you want if you cannot act on your own (or ask if you are a child of reticent parents). Put it in writing and know the location of the paperwork. Face it—these are difficult conversations.  Resources are available to help guide you in making known your final wishes or in helping you approach difficult subjects with parents.  My Dad had seen enough suffering in his life to know what he wanted for himself.  He had seen enough dysfunctional family dynamics and had the foresight to share his wishes with us.  These advance conversations will make the final days somewhat easier to navigate, because then  it’s about carrying through your loved one’s final wishes. Click here to read

 3. Know the landscape of how long-term care will be paid for.  In the United States, for better or for worse, depending on your perspective, the collective will is that government funding for long-term care is limited, and beyond that, reserved for the “truly needy.” In the case of Alzheimer’s, Medicare rarely covers caregiving cost. Generally, your care will be paid for personally, or you may secure a long-term care insurance policy. Be prepared.  Social Science Research Network. (Requires download, which is free). Click here to read

 4. Good caregiving is hard to find, especially on your timetable.  If you find a good caregiver you have found an angel of mercy.  The reality is that caregiving quality is uneven.  While it may appear many adequate institutional options are available, competition in the free market, in general, does not drive higher the quality of care. Family members often must intervene to maintain a minimally acceptable level of care.  Moreover, the better facilities stay fully booked—get on waiting lists even before you think you are ready.  Social Science Research Network. (Requires download, which is free). Click here to read

 I often hear the phrases “I don’t want to be a burden to my family” and “I want to stay at home.”  Yet, many have not acted on these sentiments and made a plan.  Know what time it is in your life and think about all those people you love and who love you.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles along with us and hope you find them informative.  Please forward this to your family and friends.

J. Mark Nickell & Co.

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