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Having a long-term care plan in case of 'the long goodbye'

People generally do not like to think of what will happen at the end of their lives and it can be unpleasant to consider the possibilities of getting sick. But the truth is that even though it can be difficult, having a long-term care plan in place is not only beneficial to an individual, but it often eases the financial and emotional strain of the loved ones around us.

One of the most upsetting illnesses that a person suffers in the late stages of life is Alzheimer's. Massachusetts residents know about the devastating effects of this disease on a person, which includes dementia and memory loss, but what may be less obvious is the financial and emotional toll it can take on those who are tasked with caring for an Alzheimer's patient.

Alzheimer's, which is also referred to as "the long goodbye," gets worse over the course of many years. On average, it can cost about $56,000 every year to care for a person with a dementia-related illness such as Alzheimer's. Rather than ignore these high costs or hope that a loved one will be able to make responsible care and financial decisions, people can take action and develop a long-term care plan to make this process easier if and when they are diagnosed with this illness.

People who cannot make their own decisions related to their own care often rely on a spouse or family member to help out. However, depending on the severity of the disease, an Alzheimer's patient may not be able to clearly discuss these options or their wishes with anyone, no matter how close their relationship is. This is why it can be crucial for a person to clearly and thoughtfully outline their financial and medical wishes prior to the onset of any symptoms of dementia or memory loss.

Whoever is assigned the role as caregiver can experience many challenges, both emotional and financial. The strain of caring for loved one can be significant, as can the cost of securing the necessary medical services. The anxiety of also having to make difficult decisions can simply be too much to expect from a person. However, with a long-term care plan in place, care decisions and financial allowances can be clearly outlined so that caregivers are sure they are acting in the best interests of a loved one.

Source: Everyday Health, "Having an Alzheimer's Action Plan," Dr. Sanjay Gupta, April 24, 2013

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