Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease

Planning Ahead—Health, Legal, and Financial Issues

When someone is diagnosed with AD, you need to start getting his or her health, legal, and financial affairs in order. You want to plan for the future, if possible, with help from the person while he or she can still make decisions. You need to review all of his or her health, legal, and financial information to make sure it reflects the person's wishes.

Update health care, legal, and financial information

Check to see that you have the following documents and that they are up to date:

  • Information on Planning

    Contact the Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at 1-800-438-4380 or www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers for more information on planning for health, legal, and financial matters.

    Durable Power of Attorney for Finances gives someone called a trustee the power to make legal and financial decisions for the person with AD
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives someone called a proxy the power to make health care decisions for the person with AD
  • Living Will states the person's wishes for health care at the end of life
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Form tells health care staff how the person wants end-of-life health care managed
  • Will tells how the person wants his or her property and money to be divided among those left behind
  • Living Trust tells someone called a trustee how to distribute a person's property and money

Check for money problems

will and other legal documentsPeople with AD often have problems managing their money. As the disease gets worse, a person may try to hide financial problems to protect his or her independence. Or, the person may not realize that he or she is losing the ability to handle money matters. Someone should check each month to see how the person is doing. This person might be a family member or the trustee.

Protect the person from fraud

woman with glasses reading paperPeople with AD also may be victims of financial abuse or "scams" by dishonest people. There can be telephone, mail, e-mail, or in-person scams. Sometimes, the person behind the scam is a "friend" or family member.

Scams can take many forms, such as:

  • Identity theft
  • Get-rich-quick offers
  • Phony offers of prizes or home or auto repairs
  • Insurance scams
  • Threats

Here are some signs that the person with AD is not managing money well or has become a victim of a scam:

  • The person seems afraid or worried when he or she talks about money.
  • Money is missing from the person's bank account.
  • Signatures on checks or other papers don't look like the person's signature.
  • Bills are not being paid, and the person doesn't know why.
  • The person's will has been changed without his or her permission.
  • The person's home is sold, and he or she did not agree to sell it.
  • Things that belong to you or the person with AD, such as clothes or jewelry, are missing from the home.
  • The person has signed legal papers (such as a will, a power of attorney, or a joint deed to a house) without knowing what the papers mean.

Reporting Problems

If you think the person may be a victim of a scam, contact your local police department. You also can contact your state consumer protection office or Area Agency on Aging office. For help finding these offices, contact Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or www.eldercare.gov. For a list of state consumer protection offices, see www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/index.shtml. You can also look in the telephone book for a listing in the blue/Government pages.

 

Publication Date: July 2012
Page Last Updated: August 22, 2014