Aging and Dementia Guide

Aging can be challenging, especially when memory skills are affected. Get our free guide on aging and dementia and learn how to identify the signs of decline early

Aging and Mental Health photo of stacked stones on beach.

Dementia Can Happen to Anyone

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in nine people over the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer’s as will nearly a third of those age 85 and older.  Having a discussion with others about mental health and cognitive impairment issues can be an uncomfortable topic, yet it’s important to consider, particularly as we grow older. Many people don’t understand the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s:

Dementia – is a term used to describe an overall decline in memory and thinking skills that is pronounced enough to interfere with daily life.

Alzheimer’s – is a form of dementia that causes difficulties with memory, thinking, behavior, and personality changes.

With aging and dementia, there are some risk factors you have no control over like age, family history, and genetics.  There are also some risk factors you may be able to influence.  This guide on aging and dementia offers the following talking points:

      • Warning signs of dementia
      • Stages of Alzheimer’s
  • Financial considerations
  • Ways to keep your brain healthy

 

10 Warning Signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Understand the warning signs, so you can seek help from your team of medical professionals:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Difficulties with problem-solving
  3. Challenges completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time and place
  5. Difficulty with three-dimensional space and images
  6. Issues with speaking, writing, and words
  7. Misplacing items
  8. Decreased judgment
  9. Social withdrawal
  10. Personality and mood changes
MILD

  • Memory and cognitive difficulties
  • Challenges solving problems or planning
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Decreased judgment
  • Inability to locate misplaced items
  • Repetitive questions
  • Difficulty with money and paying bills
  • Difficulty communicating verbally and in writing
  • Normal routines take longer than usual to complete
  • Changes in personality and mood swings
  • Getting lost or wandering
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Difficulty judging distances
  • Loss of motivation, withdrawal, and apathy
MODERATE

  • Increasing confusion and memory loss
  • Difficulty following steps
  • Difficulty recognizing family and friends
  • Difficulty coping with change
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Trouble holding bladder or bowels
  • Delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations

 

 

SEVERE

  • Inability to carry on a conversation
  • Inability to respond to the environment
  • Inability to complete most tasks without help
  • Failing bodily functions
  • Vulnerable to infections
  • Becoming bedridden

 

 

 

 

Aging and Dementia Care Options Planning in Advance

Alzheimer's

Finances

Planning in advance of any diagnosis is critical so you can address insurance options, future care, financial matters, and property. Planning enables time to work through the financing and facilitation of long-term care and the opportunity to select trusted people to make decisions on their behalf. Important things to review with your advisor include:

  • Changes to insurance, income sources, bank administration, property, and real estate
  • Tax deduction considerations
  • Estate planning documents available to you such as guardianship, Powers of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directives, living will, and trusts
  • Appointment of representatives and fiduciaries who can help families prepare for the financial consequences of care
  • Titling, ownership, and beneficiary designations

There are a variety of care options available for those who receive a diagnosis:

  • Home care offers independent living
  • Adult daycare facilities may work for those with mild symptoms
  • Assisted living can bridge the gap between independent living and nursing home care
  • Memory care facilities can offer a combination of residential and assisted living
  • Nursing homes offer around the clock and long-term care

Funding

Once diagnosed, you should address your insurance options, future care, financial matters, and any property owned as early in the diagnosis as you can. There are benefits and risks associated with any type of funding for care. It is best to meet with your advisor to discuss the options that are best for your situation. Several funding options include:

Questions to Discuss With Your Advisor

As you meet with your trusted advisor, they can help you answer any questions you may have on the high costs associated with dementia care:

  • How will I pay for care?
  • What are the expenses for long-term care?
  • Do I have an informal care network available to me consisting of family, friends, neighbors, faith communities, and volunteer groups?
  • What is my familiarity with Medicare and Medicaid eligibility, benefits, providers, and costs?
  • Do I have an understanding of the legal issues and documents that would need to be addressed?
  • Have I expressed any treatment, care, and end-of-life wishes?
  • Are there any disagreements with family members about legal or financial issues?

Nutrition

We all know the types of food we are supposed to be eating as part of a balanced diet, yet many of us choose not to. Changing our diets takes commitment and is a life-long practice, but benefits can be reaped when changes are made. Brain MD Health offers a list of 50 Best Brain Foods. Here are some of the top foods that nutritionists suggest may help with brain health and function:

  • Herbs: cloves, sage, saffron, cinnamon, turmeric, and curry
  • Fruits: pomegranate, cherry juice, and green tea
  • Vegetables: cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage
  • Beans: black, pinto, and garbanzo beans, soybeans, lentils, and peas
  • Protein: high-omega 3 fish like salmon and eggs
  • Nuts: pistachios and raw almonds
  • Along with eating colorful vegetables researchers suggest we remove things from our diets like sugar, bad fats, and quick-burning carbohydrates

Activities that May Help Brain Health

Consider the following helpful activities, so you can use a combination of the five senses:

  • Take up gardening
  • Learn something new like a language or take classes because being a lifelong learner can help reduce or slow the decline
  • Volunteer your time to help stimulate your senses and boost your mood
  • Social engagement
  • Exercise for vascular health. Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki’s TED Talk is highly recommended.
  • Recording memories early on for future generations.

Mobile Apps

Consider the following great apps for seniors, so you can keep your brain active:

  • Lumosity and online puzzles can help stimulate brain function
  • Think Dirty can help you identify toxic products by tracking 4,000 brands and over 950,000 products you might have within your house that may contribute to Alzheimer’s and other diseases
  • My Fitness Pal offers motivation for staying fit

We all know there is a lot of misinformation on the web.  That’s why, as part of our GWA Gives© program, we are dedicated to helping others find sound advice.  We believe in sharing free material so people have a trusted source to rely upon.

We hope this informational guide and list of resources will help you and your family recognize any warning signs and seek help early.  Should you have any questions about how your estate or financial plan might be affected by a dementia diagnosis, you can reach us at one of our convenient offices listed on the Contact Us page or by filling out the chat form below.  We are always happy to help.

Additional Alzheimer’s Resources

Daniel Aman and Bright Minds – Research by psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Aman offers some guidance on brain health and nutritional needs. His program Bright Minds offers a look into possible risk factors and steps you can take that might help.  Topics covered in this program are blood flow, aging, inflammation, genetics, head and brain trauma, toxins, mental health, immunity, neurohormones, diabetes, obesity, and sleep. Dr. Aman offers suggestions on limiting toxins and healthy behaviors in this memory rescue video.

Alz.org Website – Perhaps one of the most comprehensive websites to visit is www.alz.org which offers people suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregivers helpful information through newsletters, ways to find healthcare professionals, and lists of local support groups.

National Institute on Aging – Read the latest articles and research published by the Department of Health and Human Services. You can view their video on how Alzheimer’s changes the brain.

Learn about our 3P Approach© to financial planning

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