It is common for the elderly to suffer from cognitive impairments that become noticeable to friends and family members, and sometimes milder impairments may be a transitional state to something more serious. However, dementia is more serious in that it impairs basic everyday activities and significantly impacts intellectual activity.
Estate Planning and How Elder Law Attorneys Can Help
Estate planning is for everyone at any age. It is a common misconception that people only start estate planning once they are older. In reality, it is smart to start as early as possible and revisit your estate plan frequently as your circumstances change. This is especially true if you are concerned about medical conditions, like dementia, that will affect your ability to competently make decisions on your own.
Some key considerations include how any property, debts, and obligations will be handled. If you want your children, spouse, or other loved ones to be provided for, then this is also an important set of decisions that should be planned ahead and continually revisited.
One of the most important considerations in planning your estate is determining how your healthcare will be handled and paid for. Part of this includes choosing who will have decisionmaking authority in the event that you need help. An estate planning attorney can help you make the best choices for your particular circumstances. If you know that dementia runs in your family or you are simply concerned about it, it is prudent to make preparations ahead of the onset of dementia.
Sometimes family members may not notice right away that a loved one might need to see a medical professional, or they may put it off. Knowing some of the possible signs of common types of dementia is an important component of making sure his or her health and estate is planned for.
Common Types of Dementia
There are over thirty progressive, irreversible types of dementia, but here are some of the most prominent, according to the Alzheimer’s Association:
In 2015, more than 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s. This is a 10% increase from 5 years ago, and clearly supports the long forecasted dementia epidemic. One-in-eight persons age 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease and nearly half of all persons over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s. Every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease; by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 30 seconds. Currently Alzheimer’s and related dementias are the 6th leading cause of death.
Alzheimer’s Disease is not yet completely understood, but the disease progresses in the brain over time. It is the most common type of dementia. About 55-75% of dementia cases can be categorized as Alzheimer’s. The major signs of Alzheimer’s include memory problems, difficulty learning new information, difficulty solving problems or planning, difficulty speaking and writing, and trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
Vascular dementia results in worsening cognitive ability because of reduced or constricted blood flow to the brain. This leads to a deficit of nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Sometimes vascular dementia starts after a stroke that blocks blood flow. If other medical events like smaller strokes happen thereafter, the effects can add up to further decline in cognitive ability. Confusion, disorientation, difficulty with speech or understanding speech, and vision loss might be indicators of vascular dementia. You can reduce your risk of vascular dementia by lowering blood pressure, quitting smoking, and keeping diabetes and cholesterol in check.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) includes a group of disorders caused by progressive nerve cell damage in the frontal and temporal lobes. This type of dementia causes behavior and personality changes, language problems, or deterioration of muscle or motor function.
Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
Parkinson’s Disease begins in a part of the brain that controls movement and is caused by abnormal deposits of Lewy body proteins, which are otherwise normally found in the brain. Some possible signs of Parkinson’s Disease include muffled speech, problems with visual interpretation, visual hallucinations, delusions, depression, sleep issues, problems with memory and focus, compromised judgment, and difficulty making plans and carrying them out.
Huntington’s Disease is caused by a defective gene that affect a protein called Huntington. Some signs of Huntington’s disease include involuntary movement of limbs, head, face, and upper body; mood disturbances; obsessive compulsive behaviors; as well as degeneration of cognitive skills, including memory, concentration, judgment, and organization abilities.
If you or a loved one needs help with estate planning, contact our Michigan estate planning attorneys at our Michigan law firm Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras today at (248) 641-7070 or fill out our online form. Consultations are free and confidential.