Singer/songwriter John Mayer in his song, “Stop this Train,” wrote:
I’m so scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say my life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man
Said, “Help me understand”
He said, “Turn 68, oh, you’ll renegotiate”
The past few years and recent events have shown us the fragility of life. It is easy for me to say in this column week after week, “You need to plan; you need to plan,” but it is not always easy. There are things that underlie why people don’t plan.
First and foremost is our mortality. We don’t like to think about the fact that one day we or a loved one will die. We don’t like to come to grips with the fact that every day we are aging. It’s heady stuff that cannot easily be explained in a Monday morning newspaper column.
Second, families with open access to the same information, the same materials at the same time can react differently. If you knew a hurricane was coming directly at you and your beach front property, you would probably board up your house, secure everything outside and prepare for the possibility of a direct hit. It’s very similar to what can happen to families that get an early diagnosis for Alzheimer’s. Now that times get tough, there are two different ways to address this. Some people “board of the home” and get ready for the storm and some “stick their head in the sand” and hope that nothing happens.
Caregivers of those with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis may put on a “happy face,” smile and say everything is fine because caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming. It’s easier to brush it off than to deal with the truth. Let’s put aside your “happy face” and talk about Alzheimer’s disease, what it is and how you can take control of your life again.
Alzheimer’s is a deadly and degenerative disease. Alzheimer’s warning signs are often downplayed. Nobody even wants to say the word, “Alzheimer’s.” It’s a cruel disease. Not only does it rob its victims of their memory, but if they live long enough, it robs them of their life. And ultimately, Alzheimer’s can also rob the entire family of their finances.
But, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. We’ve all heard the saying “knowledge is power.” That certainly is true when trying to cope with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. But there’s more to it than that. If you don’t even know the right question to ask of doctors, accountants and lawyers, how can you possibly get the right answers?
An elder law attorney is uniquely qualified to help you prepare for the rough waters ahead. He/She can lay out a roadmap so that you can get from “here to there” safely and can properly prepare you for what to expect. He/She can help you determine the place best suited for your loved one as the disease progresses and help so that the caregiver is not emotionally, physically and financially destroyed. An elder law attorney can help you navigate the complex and confusing Medicaid process. He/She can help preserve assets so that the family is protected. And that is why I always say that “You need to plan. You need to plan.”