People with Dementia Are Capable Contributors

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. At Elder Advisors Law, we want to help move our community forward with important information and resources for people dealing with a form of dementia and their families. Worldwide, more than 55 million people are currently living with a form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Statistics show one out of three people will deal with some form of dementia during their lives, and it’s important to know that there are many more forms of dementia other than Alzheimer’s, the most commonly referenced form of the disease. Between 60 and 70% of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s, leaving between 17 to 22 million people with other forms of dementia such as Parkinson’s, Frontotemporal Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Dementia, and mixed dementia.

One of the saddest realities of the disease is how often people write off those who are diagnosed as incapable. With so many people living with dementia, we’d be writing off so many loved ones if we simply took the diagnosis as a sign they can no longer capably contribute to our lives or their own lives.

When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they can often still make decisions for themselves and others and should be given the power and resources to do so. It’s hard to know how or when the disease will progress, so it’s imperative to have planning in place (especially a detailed estate plan) should the disease progress quickly. It may take years for the disease to progress, so the person who is diagnosed should be supported and maintain responsibilities during this time.

Regardless of the cognitive impact of Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, or another form of dementia, patients can often experience what is referred to as paradoxical lucidity. This is an unpredictable term of clarity patients may experience where they are of sound mind and body. Courts will often recognize these periods should decisions or changes to estate and care plans be made, but the decisions will often need to be supported by guardians, family members, or healthcare power of attorney. Too often, these periods are ignored and written off when we should be taking steps to give our loved ones with dementia the power they not only deserve but earned throughout the course of their lives. Paradoxical lucidity is something the National Institute on Aging is doing further research into to get a better understanding of these unpredictable periods of clarity.

The journey of supporting loved ones with dementia can be a challenging and emotional one for us all, but it’s part of who our loved ones are after diagnosis. Their diagnosis doesn’t define them and we should continue to give them power and freedom whenever reasonable and possible. One way we can support our loved ones is on “the Longest Day,” a summer solstice initiative by the Alzheimer’s Association to spread awareness and fundraise for important research that can extend, preserve, and improve the lives of those diagnosed with dementia.

At Elder Advisors Law, we take pride in helping families and protecting generations. Contact our offices today for more information and resources for those diagnosed with dementia and their loved ones.

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