How to Live With Alzheimer’s Disease

Adults living with Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s) can continue enjoying life through education, careful planning, and patience with process. When the diagnosis is received, take time to plan for your future. Having a plan is the best way to maintain autonomy and a sense of control. When family is involved, an agreed upon plan affords them peace of mind as well. Have the hard discussions now to make life just a little easier in the long run.

group of people at board room table having a discussion

Things to Consider As You Plan

Everyone wants to maintain their ability to drive as long as possible. With the privilege to drive comes responsibility. We encourage you to discuss driving with your family and your physician on a regular basis. Planning for this event can help ease this life transition. Each individual with Alzheimer’s disease is encouraged to read a book published by The Hartford insurance company entitled At the Crossroads: A Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia & Driving. This is a resource to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families objectively determine when it is time to stop driving.

Additional resources include the AARP’s Policy Institute released a study of 65+ year old commuters and the impact of extended years of employment among Americans on transportation and community planning: “Work-Related Travel in an Era of Extended Employment”

The Emory Center for Health in Aging has initiatives that address the issue of transportation, safe driving, and mobility options – especially for those of us who are no longer driving or are thinking of retiring from driving. Check out more information on our own initiatives.

Please also visit our partners at the Georgia Older Driver’s Task Force for more information on statewide initiatives.

If you are concerned about someone’s ability to drive safely, you may consider completing a Request for Driver Evaluation, developed by the GA Older Driver’s Task Force and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Additional Resources for driver’s education, training, and alternative transportation services:

For Health Professionals: American Medical Association Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers

We strongly encourage people with mild cognitive impairment, early Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative disease to set up a systematic way to manage their medication. In addition we strongly suggest that another family member review the medication system and provide ongoing supervision. From working with many people with early memory problems we have learned that it is very easy to have problems with medication management. Developing a medication management system before you are actually having difficulty with medications is very important.

In 2007 Georgia adopted a new “Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care”.

The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care is a legal document in which you name another person as your agent to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself. In this document you can describe treatment you want and do not want. You may choose to consult with an attorney who will execute an individualized Advance Directive for Health Care.

The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care now includes the directives formally designated as a “living will”. You can provide direction related to your wishes should you have a terminal condition. You can specify your preferences related to food and hydration should you have a terminal or irreversible condition.

Advanced Financial Planning and Wills

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia in a family member immediately invokes feelings of fear, panic, and stress into the family unit. The practical matter of financial planning often gets pushed aside as the family attempts to cope. Topics such as a durable power of attorney, living trusts, and a healthcare proxy are far from the everyday dialogue of families dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Elder law has become a practice specialty as our population ages. Elder lawyers are attorneys who have developed expertise in areas of the law important to older people. Typically they have expertise is areas such as estate and disability planning, trusts, advanced directives for health care, durable power of attorney for finances, living wills, guardianship, financing long term care, Medicare, Medicaid and SSI. Within the practice of elder law there is even further specialization. Some elder lawyers specialize in long term care financing, while others do not. Your local bar association may be able to provide additional resources.

To begin the process of finding an elder law attorney visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Learn More About…

How to Find Alzheimer’s Support Groups

Read About Support Groups

African Americans & Alzheimers

Read About Minority Outreach

Memory Evaluations

Read About Memory Evaluations