“Mom? We Need To Talk.” – Talking about Alzheimer’s

Mother’s Day is coming up and it is a time when many reflect about their mothers and their importance to us. Maybe you take her out to lunch in Los Angeles. Perhaps you buy her a gift. Few will have the difficult conversation they should be having — Alzheimer’s disease.

Those of us in our 50s probably have friends who have lost a parent to Alzheimer’s. Perhaps someone in our family has succumbed to the disease. Talking about Alzheimer’s in general may be a way to broach the specific topic of power of attorney and long-term care with your mother or parents. It is a good conversation to have before it is too late.

Recent studies tell us that one in eight people in the U.S. who are 65 or older and 43 percent of those over age 85 have Alzheimer’s. Those with the disease need someone to take care of their needs — physically and financially. It is apparently not uncommon for the adult children of elderly parents to wait too long, which can complicate matters. Warning signs that a parent might need help include checkbook mistakes or unpaid bills and perhaps disorganized paperwork that used to be organized.

Sources offer a few helpful tips regarding  talking about Alzheimer’s with an elderly parent.

  • Avoid taking control which can put the parent on the defensive.
  • Prearrange an agreed-upon “trigger” with your parent, such as a missed payment.
  • Share information with your parent about the disease and warning signs.
  • Ask for copies of important documents such as wills, trusts and health care directives.

It is important to know who the parent wishes to have the power of attorney, should the parent need it. If that decision is not made in time, it may still need to be made on the parent’s behalf but without their ability to consent.

As always, long-term estate planning is something everyone should do, and keep updated, with the help of qualified professionals.

Source: Smart Money, “Talking to Mom About Alzheimer’s and Her Money,” Glenn Ruffenach, May 7, 2012