Legal and financial planning for people with Alzheimer’s disease

When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another serious illness, it is important to update financial, legal, and health care arrangements as soon as possible.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people. It is an irreversible brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. People with Alzheimer’s disease eventually lose the ability to manage their own finances and medical care, and the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. These changes affect the person’s ability to participate meaningfully in decision making and make early planning especially important.

It’s also important to be aware that older people, including those with Alzheimer’s, may be targeted for insurance, home repair, telephone, or Internet scams or fraud. Even “trusted” friends or family members have been known to steal an older person’s money or property.

Although difficult questions can often arise, advance planning can help people with Alzheimer’s and their families clarify their wishes and make well-informed decisions.

What can you do?

If you have a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, or if your organization works with older adults, you can help families take the necessary legal and financial steps to protect themselves. When possible, families should begin planning soon after a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, while the person can take part in discussions.

Facing Alzheimer’s disease can be emotionally wrenching for all concerned. Indeed, many people are unprepared to deal with the legal and financial consequences. Learn more from the National Institute on Aging on gathering your important papers and getting your affairs in order. You can view publications online or order in print to share with your family or your organization.

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