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Paul E. Riffel Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

The ABCs for Supporting a Family Member Who is Newly Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease


Did you know that Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia? It can cause problems with memory, thinking, cognition, and behavior. Symptoms, though, usually develop slowly and get worse over time, with end-stages of the disease becoming life-threatening. As yet, there is no cure.

For treatment to be effective and improve the quality of life there needs to be an early detection of the disease. The most widely recognized early warning sign is memory loss, knowing what to do about it could make all the difference in the treatment options.

How do you support a family member who is newly diagnosed or whom you suspect may need more help? Let us share the “A, B, Cs” of important items to keep in mind when approaching a loved one with potential Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia-related memory issues.

A. Access the situation early. What changes in memory, thinking, or behavior do you observe? What is your loved one doing, or not doing? What exactly is causing you concern? Has anyone else noticed the same changes that you are seeing?

Be sure to write down your concerns and list them over time to help establish the difference between what could be Alzheimer’s Disease or the normal aging process. A certain amount of memory loss and confusion is to be expected, and other factors may affect older adults as well, such as prescription medications, stress, and other health conditions. Researching memory loss, especially as it relates to Alzheimer’s Disease, can also help bring clarity to the situation. Do not be afraid to proactively speak with a medical professional or qualified health care provider.

B. Be open to help. A critical first step? Scheduling a doctor’s evaluation. There are also a number of support organizations, Alzheimer’s Disease, and memory loss assistance programs, and caring professionals to help with daily challenges, getting to medical appointments, and important legal and financial planning items. In addition, law firms like ours can help you plan for the future to determine what type of Florida estate plan and long-term care plan may be needed in the future.

C. Communicate. First, you need to acknowledge your concerns about your loved one. This can be very difficult when confronting a loved one about his or her mental health. Reach out and communicate with other family members and decide who should begin the conversation. Discuss whether it is best to raise concerns in a face-to-face talk, or is it best to include several family members when raising the issue. No matter how you have your conversation, the key is to have compassion, understanding and support.

We know how difficult this conversation can be and want to help. Do not wait to contact us to schedule a meeting with our firm to help you plan for the future.

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