The end of life is a topic people don’t like to think about. Perhaps that’s why many people put off end of life planning until they’re older. But if Alzheimer’s disease or some other cognitive disorder arises, that planning might come too late.
Alzheimer’s Is the Sixth Leading Cause of Death in the US
More than 5 million American are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, killing an estimated 500,000 people each year. While the health effects of Alzheimer’s are well documented, the financial impact from the disease might be less apparent. Alzheimer’s disease is a costly disease, taking a financial toll on patients and their families. In 2013, caregivers provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That financial impact is even more acute without proper planning.
While the progression of Alzheimer’s disease varies from person to person, the disease leads to a steady decline in memory and the ability to think clearly. As that happens, a person becomes less capable of managing his or her own affairs, both the tasks of everyday life and the legal and financial decision making needed for estate planning.
The National Institute on Aging suggests that estate planning take place soon after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. In these early stages, a patient is still able to take part in the discussion of financial, legal, and even medical affairs. This advanced planning is not only for the benefit of the patient. It also benefits the caregivers, who won’t have to guess about the wishes and desires of their loved one.
No one wants to think about developing Alzheimer’s disease. But the prevalence of the disease means it will touch many people, whether they are patients or caregivers. Early planning can help families enter those circumstances ready and prepared. To learn more, contact us.