Are you worried about your parent's ability to maintain independent living? While many factors determine whether living alone is safe, a recent study indicated that those with early-stage Alzheimer's disease show such rapid declines in financial skills that this can signal a need for senior assistance sooner rather than later.
The study, conducted at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, showed that those with early-stage Alzheimer's might have problems with paying bills and counting change, two tasks important for independent living. If your parent has Alzheimer's, the researchers recommend using senior assistance programs and hiring an elder law attorney right away in order to get your parent's finances in order.
Hire an Elder Law Attorney
Ideally, parents should visit an elder law attorney as soon as possible after an Alzheimer's diagnosis so they can make their own decisions about how their finances should be handled as the disease worsens. Elder law attorneys can help set up living wills, living trusts, advance directives, durable powers of attorney, and other documents that will be necessary as independent living becomes more difficult.
Use Senior Assistance for Monthly Matters
Check with your parent's local Area Agency on Aging to find out about senior assistance programs that can help with bill paying and other independent living matters. The Eldercare Locator can direct you to the correct agency. Also, check with your parent's nearest AARP office; some chapters offer senior assistance with bill paying provided by AARP volunteers.
Guard Against Fraud
The study also indicated that parents with early stage Alzheimer's are less able to recognize fraud schemes, both over the phone and through the mail. This is another reason to be sure that someone is supervising your parent's financial activities, whether it be someone from a local senior assistance program or someone recommended by an elder law attorney.
Are you concerned about your parent's ability to maintain independent living? What kinds of senior assistance programs have you used? Do you consult with an elder law attorney? Post a comment to this blog, and be sure to sign up for our email list to receive regular updates about new eldercare topics posted on EldercareABC.com.
--Carrie L. Hill, Ph.D