What's it like to have a loved one with dementia. What can the family do?
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You do a lot of work for families of individuals with dementia. Why have you chosen that group to work with?
You probably know that my mother passed away with Alzheimer's disease in 1999. I guess I just identify with those folks and the way they feel.
You have a story you tell when you do presentations. Could you share that story?
Sure! Imagine you are finally going on a well-deserved vacation. You have been looking forward to it for some time. Your trip begins on a beautiful sunny day. You aren't driving so you doze off. In a while you wake up not knowing how long you slept. The sky is dark. It seems to be getting darker by the minute. Nothing looks familiar. Your driver seems disoriented. Your car has stopped. You wonder if there is enough fuel to get to the next gas station. Filled with fear, you aren't sure where you are. The thoughts of a wonderful vacation have vanished. You are in the middle of nowhere with no way to get back. You fight back tears. You try not to panic!
These are the feelings of many families that have had a loved one with dementia. They know the journey will be long, but they have no idea how long. They know the days are dark, but aren't sure how much darker they will get. Their loved one is disoriented; unable to help. They don't know which way to turn, or where to get the strength to make the journey. Getting back to a normal life is no longer an option. The fear and confusion is devastating. Now imagine a gentle tap on the window. A friendly person tells you where you are, and where to get the fuel for the journey. The friendly neighbor tells you that you can and will make it.
We want to be that friendly neighbor. Meeting the needs of families struggling with dementia is a task we embraced. Each member of our team has felt the sting of having a family member diagnosed with dementia. Each team member has felt that sting melt away into dark days associated with the disease as a loved one slipped away.
So, what do you stress when they come in for an interview?
I stress the urgency the situation. During early stages a lot of good can be done that can't be done later. By acting during in the early stages many families can be spared the humiliation of a competency hearing. With proper planning, financial resources may be protected and assets could be saved. By having a financial and legal plan tailored to a family's needs, the family could avoid many costly pitfalls later. When facing a debilitating cognitive illness, delaying to plan may be a costly mistake. We, along with the attorneys we are associated with are here to help!
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