September Brings In A Change Of Season And World Alzheimer’s Month
Around the world more than 50 million people suffer as a result of dementia. Be it age-related or the result of Alzheimer’s Disease, which 50-60% of sufferers have, this degenerative brain condition is devastating.
It robs a person of their precious memories, competency, comprehension and behavioral awareness. Typically this is a slow decline taking place over years.
Like all forms of mental illness, Alzheimer’s and dementia are still misunderstood by the general population, and they are shrouded by stigma due to ignorance of these conditions.
That is why our firm proudly promotes September as being World Alzheimer’s Month, with September 21st designated as World Alzheimer’s Day. The event has been running since 2012, the aim of which is to raise awareness and challenge the negative notions that contribute to its continued misunderstanding.
Caregivers and family members suffer tremendously from this slow burn of decline when a loved one is diagnosed with any form of dementia.
Everything changes and it is very sad to watch the memories literally fade away. Those of us with loved ones living with dementia are called upon to learn how to live in the face of the dramatic changes. There is much to learn, with patience being one of the most important lessons. And, unlike the changing cycle of seasons, dementia does not get better, it continues to get worse.
My mother has vascular dementia and the effect this illness has had on our relationship is disheartening. I continue to speak with my mother daily; however, our conversations have become the same repeated dialogue and very limited engagement beyond her standard one-word responses. To say that I miss my mom is an understatement. It’s painful because she is physically still with us and it is so sad to remember who she used to be compared with who she is now.
But it is this personal experience that has created my passion as an estate planning and asset protection attorney. I know and promote the importance of ensuring legal documents declaring agents, wishes, intentions, and instructions are drafted and signed while the loved one is still legally competent. In addition, I know the value and relief that these documents offer the family members as the window of competency closes and strategy is needing to be implemented as the level of need increases.
Please do your part to raise your awareness about this devastating illness. There are many websites and organizations where you and your family can learn how best to speak with and engage your loved ones who are among the 50 million people who suffer from dementia around the world. In addition, make sure you are proactive in ensuring that your loved one is legally protected and properly represented through agents for whatever events may occur. With awareness comes greater understanding and compassion.