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Dementia and your aging parent

When you have a loved one who is showing signs of dementia, now is the time to sit down and talk to them about their wishes. People who suffer from dementia often have times when they are lucid, and it is important to discuss their estate plan, will and other important documents with them when they can still make legal decisions for themselves.

As your loved one’s condition worsens, there may come a time when you need to seek out a guardianship or to use your powers of attorney to help them with health care or financial decisions. If you aren’t assigned to that role, it’s important that you know who will take over your loved one’s care.

Why talk about the progression of dementia early in the disease?

It’s necessary to talk about the progression of dementia when your loved one is still lucid enough to do so, because you need to know what their wishes are. It is also helpful if they will discuss with you who they’re assigning as a health care proxy or who they want as a financial power of attorney, so you can raise your concerns now. For example, if you have two siblings and your mother or father wants to assign your youngest brother as the financial power of attorney, it may be worth discussing if that’s the right choice. If he is good with money, then it makes sense. If not, then you might want to suggest hiring someone or choosing someone else.

If you know that your loved one has dementia, it’s also a wise choice to keep apprised of the progression of the illness. If you’re able, talking to their medical provider about the condition and learning the signs to look for to show that they should not be making decisions for themselves can help.

Dementia is generally progressive, though it may get better or worse at times. Knowing what to expect if your parent has been diagnosed with dementia is important, so you can make major decisions with them now and be prepared for the future and the potential for their mental decline.

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