September Is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
As Rochester Elder Law Attorneys, we are aware of the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease on the individual afflicted as well as their family members. Miles Zatkowsky, Rochester Elder Law attorney, is so committed to Alzheimer’s causes he serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association for the Rochester and Finger Lakes Area and his elder law firm participates in the annual Rochester Walk To End Alzheimer’s Event.
September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, but the disease and its progression are well known to those who suffer and the family watching their loved one suffer. Alzheimer’s affects about one in every two families.
This is a threat that currently impacts more than five million Americans and that number is predicted to triple by 2050. Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is continually increasing.
Here are Alzheimer’s facts about which you may not have been aware:
- Alzheimer’s disease is not necessarily an “end stage” disease. In many instances, Alzheimer’s follows a close to fifteen year progression from initial onset until death. There are, of course, variables, but fifteen years is the average. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s after the patient has been dealing with symptoms for between eight to ten years, this means many patients have undiagnosed symptoms and go untreated. During this time, lesions continue to spread through the brain, causing irreparable damage.
- Memory loss is not an inevitable part of aging. The reason people are not diagnosed earlier is they resist medical attention because they chalk forgetfulness and memory loss to “getting older.” People fear being stigmatized and may believe Alzheimer’s cannot be treated. Awareness and education are key.
- There are medications to treat Alzheimer’s Disease and they are more effective than people think. The reason many people think treatments don’t work is because the disease isn’t detected until late-stage. Earlier intervention and diagnosis can lead to treatment and therapies to slow its progression.
- The health of your brain is connected to the health of your body and your heart. High blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol lead to an increased risk of cognitive decline.
- Ask your physician to explain the well-identified risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and ask which of those you can take steps to manage. Diabetes, smoking, poor diet, lethargy, isolation and head injuries are risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. If you have a higher awareness of the risk factors, you can take steps to minimize them. Staying active and socially engaged are two ways to keep both your body and your mind healthy.
One of the main reasons we counsel our clients to create these important legal documents while they are still competent enough to inform others of their wishes is to prepare for the possibility of a time coming when they can no longer make their own decisions or speak for themselves.
Legal documents we prepare for our elder law clients include:
- Power of Attorney
- Health Care Proxy
- Last Will and Testament
- Supplemental Needs Trust
- Living Will