No one likes to think about cognitive decline in themselves or their loved ones. But, for many families, this is an incredibly important topic to address. In fact, 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including 10 percent of people aged 65 and older. When they pass away, one in three seniors has Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
Understand the Signs and Symptoms of Cognitive Decline
Distinguishing between cognitive impairment and common aging traits can be challenging. As we age, having forgetful moments can be normal, but other symptoms may indicate early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, including:
- Memory loss that makes daily tasks difficult, such as asking the same questions repeatedly or forgetting new information.
- Planning and problem-solving challenges, such as struggling to track bills or follow a recipe.
- Vision changes, such as being unable to tell colors apart or judge distance accurately.
- Confusion over time and place, such as getting lost easily or becoming disoriented.
- Conversational challenges, such as forgetting words or not following when people are talking.
These are just a few of the early warning signs. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, consult a physician and ask other family members to be on alert.
Schedule Family Discussions and Make Advanced Preparations
Sit down with your loved ones to talk through your feelings about aging and discuss what you would want to happen if your family became concerned about your capacity. If you have aging relatives, ask them about their current preparations and have them designate someone to check in regularly.
These conversations can bring up strong emotions, so focus on being patient, compassionate and honest as you work together as a family.
Ensure Your Paperwork is in Order
Along with these important discussions with your family, you need to ensure you have the right legal protections for your financial future. Whether you are preparing for your own aging or your family member’s, evaluate the strength of your legal documents, such as:
- Living trust
- Durable power of attorney for health care
- Durable power of attorney for finances
Once your legal framework is in place, you also need to set up family protocols for when and how to start taking over financial affairs. FBN
By Keith Schaafsma, MBA, CFP
Keith Todhunter Schaafsma, MBA, Certified Financial Planner, is the Senior Investment Adviser at Ascendant Financial Solutions. She has been creating peace for her clients from financial chaos for over 20 years. She and her husband, Pieter, an artist, love to travel and enjoy the wide–open spaces of the Southwest with their two cherished dogs.
Securities and Advisory services offered through Geneos Wealth Management, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through Ascendant Financial Solutions, Inc.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and CFP in the U.S.