9 Essential Tips For Caring For a Spouse With Alzheimer’s Disease

9 Essential Tips For Caring For a Spouse With Alzheimer’s Disease

9-tips-for-caring-for-a-spouse-with-alzheimer's-disease

Caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease can be an emotionally challenging and physically demanding journey. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior, making caregiving a complex and delicate task. To navigate this path with grace and compassion, you need guidance and support.

Below are nine essential tips based on valuable insights we’ve gained by helping families and individuals navigate the legal complexities of this disease.

  1. Educate yourself: Understanding Alzheimer’s is the first step in providing effective care. Learn about the disease’s stages, symptoms, and available resources to better anticipate your spouse’s needs.
  2. Seek legal and financial guidance: Consult with our legal team—or a trsuted estate planning and elder law firm in your area—to establish necessary documents, such as a durable power of attorney, wills, and advance healthcare directives. Planning ahead can help protect your and your spouse’s assets, and ensure their wishes are respected.
  3. Establish a routine: Creating a structured daily routine can provide stability and reduce anxiety for both you and your spouse. Consistency is key with Alzheimer’s care.
  4. Foster open communication: While your spouse may struggle with verbal communication, encourage non-verbal expressions like gestures, facial expressions, and touch. Maintain eye contact and show patience when trying to understand their needs.
  5. Safety first: Ensure that your home is a safe environment. Install locks, alarms, and remove any potential hazards that could harm your spouse.
  6. Respite care: Don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals or trusted family and friends to provide you with a much-needed break from time to time. Caregiver burnout is a real concern, and taking time for self-care is essential.
  7. Focus on nutrition: A well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining physical and cognitive health. Consult a nutritionist if necessary, and ensure your spouse receives proper nourishment.
  8. Embrace support groups: Joining a local Alzheimer’s support group can offer emotional support and a sense of community. Sharing experiences with others in similar situations can be invaluable.
  9. Adapt and be patient: Understand that your spouse’s behavior may change unpredictably. Be adaptable and patient, and try to find joy in small moments of connection.

Caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s is challenging, but with the right resources, support, and guidance, you can provide the best care possible. The nine tips above will help you navigate the day-to-day challenges with love and compassion, and the team at Miller Estate and Elder Law can offer legal guidance and support along your journey with this disease. 

Contact Miller Estate and Elder Law

Remember, you are not alone, and seeking help is a sign of strength and dedication to your spouse’s well-being. Call us at (256) 251-2137 to discuss your legal needs, or get in touch with us by completing the brief form below.

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Caring for Caregivers: Coping Skills to Fight Caregiver Burnout

Caring for Caregivers: Coping Skills to Fight Caregiver Burnout

caring-for-caregivers

Caring for a loved one can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be emotionally and physically draining. Caregiver burnout is a common occurrence, and it’s important to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent (or reverse) it. In this article, we will discuss several coping skills to fight caregiver burnout.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need. According to the Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout can lead to a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

There are several signs of caregiver burnout that you should be aware of. These include feeling overwhelmed, experiencing feelings of isolation, neglecting your own needs, and losing interest in activities you used to enjoy. According to Vitas Healthcare, other signs include changes in appetite or sleep patterns, feeling irritable or short-tempered, and experiencing physical symptoms, like headaches or stomach problems. Caring for aging parents or loved ones can be as difficult as it is rewarding.

Coping Skills for Caregiver Burnout

To prevent or alleviate caregiver burnout, there are several coping skills that caregivers can employ. One of the most important is asking for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family members, friends, or community organizations for assistance. You may also want to consider hiring a professional caregiver or respite to provide a break from caregiving duties.

Practicing self-care is another important way to cope with caregiver burnout. This means taking care of your own physical and emotional needs. Make time for exercise, hobbies, and relaxation. Seek support from others, including therapists, support groups, or spiritual advisors.

It’s also important to set realistic expectations for yourself. Remember that you can’t do everything, and that it’s okay to ask for help or delegate responsibilities. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Try to find a balance between caregiving duties and other aspects of your life. Take advantage of technology and other modern resources to help you manage your caregiving responsibilities. There are many apps, websites, and other tools available to help you organize schedules, track medications, and connect with other caregivers.

Caregiver burnout is a serious issue that can affect both caregivers and their loved ones. It’s important to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent or alleviate it. By asking for help, practicing self-care, setting realistic expectations, and using technology and other resources, caregivers can cope with the demands of caregiving and maintain their own well-being.

Download the Free Guide: Caring for Aging Parents

At Miller Estate & Elder Law, we have helped countless caregivers gain peace of mind knowing that—at the least—the right legal tools are in place to help them help their aging loved ones. We work with caregivers at all stages, from taking the first important legal steps following a dementia diagnosis, to filing for guardianship and/or conservatorship after their loved one’s dementia symptoms become more advanced. The sooner you take action, the easier it will be to take the best possible care of your aging loved ones. Complete the brief form below to download our free e-Book and guide: Caring for Aging Loved Ones, or contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your unique needs.



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How to Legally Protect a Loved One with Dementia

How to Legally Protect a Loved One with Dementia

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you can make the news of a devastating diagnosis a little easier for them by taking steps to make sure certain several legal documents are put into place as soon as possible. An elder law attorney can help you put a plan into place to support you and your loved one every step of the way, including establishing a durable power of attorney, a living will, a medical power of attorney, and an estate plan. These legal documents for caregivers will give you peace of mind that you are fulfilling the wishes of your loved one as they navigate their diagnosis and disease.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to make financial decisions for your loved one when they are no longer able to advocate for themselves. Working with an elder law attorney and your loved one to establish yourself as an agent will allow you to make financial decisions, sell property, handle any financial accounts like IRAs or savings, and pay bills. Establishing power of attorney is an especially crucial step to take following a dementia diagnosis. If you fail to do so and need to take over financial responsibilities for your loved one down the road, you will have to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship through the court system, leading to expensive legal fees and unnecessary hearings.

Estate Plan

In addition to establishing power of attorney to make sure their financial responsibilities are handled, your loved one may want to establish an estate plan for their assets and investments at the time of their dementia diagnosis. Your loved one and an elder law attorney can discuss any specific plans or intentions they have for their assets to make sure their investments and income are protected. An important legal document for caregivers, an estate plan provides you with a clear directive of your loved one’s wishes and them with a sense of control over their assets.

Living Will or Advanced Health Care Directive

Eventually your loved one will reach a point where they are no longer able to make health care decisions for themselves. Before that happens, you and your loved one should have a discussion about potential medical issues that might arise and what choices they would like to make for treatment. Legal documents for caregivers like a living will are legally binding and make it easier for you and them to feel confident that their wishes will be respected during more advanced stages of their disease. The living will should also include the name of the person who will become your loved one’s medical power of attorney. An elder law attorney can help you draft this document and make certain that your loved one’s voice is heard.

At Miller Estate & Elder Law, we have many years of experience helping people care for their loved ones—while protecting their hard-earned savings. Contact us today and start putting your family first, or download our free guide: Caring for Aging Parents: The ABCs of Long-Term Care Planning by filling in the brief form below.



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The 7 Stages of Dementia and How to Support Your Loved One Through Each

The 7 Stages of Dementia and How to Support Your Loved One Through Each

7-stages-of-dementia

If a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of Dementia, you know you will be facing a hard road ahead. Seeing a family member or loved one’s mental state deteriorate can be a trying emotional experience, but knowing what to expect can help ease the mental burden. By understanding the 7 stages of dementia, you will be able to provide valuable assistance to your loved one at each step in their progression.

The 7 Stages of Dementia

Although there are different common classifications of Dementia’s stages, the progression is most often divided into seven parts. Here are the different stages and what you can do to help a loved one at each one:

  1. Normal Behavior. Because the mental deterioration associated with dementia consists of a steady progression, the early stages are not yet classified as Dementia proper. In stage one, there are no outward signs of any mental decline. This is the perfect time to talk to an elderly parent or other relative about their wishes, should they begin to decline mentally—and to make sure the right legal documents are in place!
  2. Very Mild Changes/Forgetfulness. At this stage, changes will be subtle and, in some cases, you may not notice them at all. They include light memory loss and difficulty finding the right words. At this stage, you should be absolutely sure that your loved one’s living will and health care proxy are in place, and you will need to begin watching them more closely.
  3. Mild Changes. At Stage 3, the signs of dementia will begin to be more noticeable. Memory loss will become more acute, with your loved one having difficulty with words and names, and trouble paying attention. You will have to begin taking a more active role in managing aspects of their lives, including paying bills, making appointments, and ensuring that they take their daily medications.
  4. Moderate Decline/Mild Dementia. At this stage, your parent or relative can be said to be experiencing the early stages of Dementia. They will still remember most of their past and they will know who you are. That said, their memory will continue to decline, with short term memory difficulties becoming especially prevalent. They will require more help with everyday tasks and will likely need someone to look after them daily. They will also no longer be able to drive.
  5. Moderately Severe Decline/Moderate Dementia. By now, your loved one is entering mid-stage Dementia. They will begin experiencing personality and mood changes and begin to have problems with bathroom use and eating. They will still recognize you, but will begin to forget some of their past. At this point, they will need more intensive care, such as help with dressing and bathing. If you are unable to provide this level of care, you will need to begin making arrangements to hire a health care professional.
  6. Severe Decline/Moderately Severe Dementia. In stage 6, memory loss becomes more significant and your loved one may no longer recognize you. They will forget most of their past and need significant help performing daily tasks. At this point, in addition to ensuring health care assistance, you will want to find ways to continue to connect to your loved one. Even simply talking to them can help.
  7. Very Severe Decline/Late-Stage Dementia. In late-stage dementia, your loved one will not remember anything of their past or recognize anyone they used to know. They will no longer be able to speak or eat by themselves and they will lose all bathroom function. They will require 24-hour assistance. Helping them with any daily tasks you can and continuing to talk to them can help out in a difficult situation.

Dealing with a loved one going through the stages of dementia can be an emotionally trying situation. That’s why it’s important to prepare ahead of time so you know what to expect. Working with a loved one to ensure that all their health care documents are in place, in particular, can help give you peace of mind. That way, if your parent or other relative does begin to experience cognitive decline, you can be sure you will have the authority to make financial and medical decisions for them, and be operating according to their wishes moving forward.

Contact Miller Estate & Elder Law

At Miller Estate and Elder Law, we have many years of experience helping clients navigate the complexities of the estate planning process. Having the right legal documents in place now can save you from a major headache later. Contact us today to get started providing for your and your family’s future, or complete the brief form below to download our free guide: The 5 Legal Documents Every Adult Needs.


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5 Common Situations When an Estate Plan is Surprisingly Important

5 Common Situations When an Estate Plan is Surprisingly Important

Not everyone recognizes the need for an estate plan. Contrary to popular opinion, estate planning is not reserved for only the wealthy or elderly. In fact, anyone who owns anything—a house, a car, a bank account…literally anything—should draft even a very simple estate plan to ensure that their belongings are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away.

But, again, contrary to popular opinion, estate planning isn’t just about what happens to your “stuff’ after you die. It very much helps protect you, physically, as well as your hard-earned assets while you’re still alive.

Here are five common instances you probably haven’t thought of where having an estate plan in place is a good idea:

  1. Having Minor Children: If you have minor children, it’s important to have a well drafted estate plan in place to ensure that they are taken care of in the event of your death. This includes appointing a guardian for your children, and outlining how their inheritance will be managed and distributed.
  2. Owning Property in Different States: If you own property in different states, it’s important to have an estate plan in place to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes. Without a plan, your property may be subject to the intestate laws of the state in which it’s located, which may not align with your wishes.
  3. Having a Special Needs Family Member: If you have a family member with special needs, it’s important to have an estate plan in place to ensure that they are taken care of in the event of your death. This includes setting up a special needs trust to provide for their care, and naming a Trustee and Successor Trustee who will manage the trust’s assets.
  4. Starting or Owning a Business: If you’re a business owner, it’s important to have an estate plan in place to ensure that your business continues to run smoothly in the event of your death. This includes designating a successor to take over the business, and outlining how the business’s assets will be distributed.
  5. Having a Large Estate: If you have a large estate, it’s important to have an estate plan in place to minimize taxes and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. This includes setting up trusts and utilizing other estate planning tools to minimize taxes and protect your assets against creditors and predators.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s important to be prepared for the many uncertainties of the future. Whether you’re a business owner, the parent of minor children, or a caretaker for a special needs family member, planning ahead is never a bad idea. Be sure to work with a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney who can help you create a plan that is tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Contact Miller Estate & Elder Law

At Miller Estate and Elder Law, we have many years of experience helping clients navigate the complexities of the estate planning process. Having the right legal documents in place now can save you from a major headache later. Contact us today to get started providing for your and your family’s future, or complete the brief form below to download our free guide: The 5 Legal Documents Every Adult Needs.


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What Does Long-Term Care Actually Cost?

What Does Long-Term Care Actually Cost?

Elderly man walking with walker and nurse assistance

Although no one likes to think about it, as your loved ones get older, there’s a good chance that they will need more intensive medical care. Whether that means having a home health aide look in on them a few times a week or moving them into a nursing home full-time, it can be a difficult and emotionally wrenching situation to care for a family member who can no longer take care of themselves.

In addition to the emotional demands, long-term care is extremely expensive, and can drain your loved one’s savings account…fast! That’s why it’s essential to plan ahead and work with an estate planning or elder law attorney who can help protect you or your loved ones from running through their savings. This helpful guide will take you through the basics of long-term care planning, specifically when it comes to caring for your aging parents. Below are some answers to common questions about the cost of long-term care.

How Much Does Long-Term Care Cost?

Long-term care takes many different forms, but it can generally be divided into two categories: in-home care, where trained professionals care for your loved one in their own home, and residential care, where they leave their home and live in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Whichever form of care is right for your loved one, the costs can be challenging. For in-home care, the average hourly rate in Alabama is $20/hour, but it can easily range upwards of $30, depending on your location and the level of care provided. For assisted living, the average cost in Alabama is about $3,500 per month, although this rate may be higher in more expensive areas, such as Birmingham or Florence.

The most expensive option is a nursing home residency. Costs vary considerably, but one recent study puts the average yearly cost for a semi-private room in Alabama at $80,000 a year, and the price for a fully private room at $84,000. Needless to say, these costs can stretch the budget of the average household more than just a little bit.

Planning for Long-Term Care Expenses

Although these numbers can be head-spinning, there are resources available to help you meet them. Medicare benefits can serve as a valuable bridge for when your loved one first requires more intensive medical assistance, but are not a long-term solution. Medicare benefits only cover 80 percent of costs, and only cover 100 days of care. In addition, they typically only cover skilled nursing care, and limited home care.

Medicaid benefits, though, cover most of the additional long-term care costs that Medicare cannot. Medicaid is need-based, but there are ways to qualify…no matter what your financial situation. With proper legal planning and the correct organization of your assets, you will be able to protect your savings and pay for whatever assistance your loved ones may need.

The Importance of an Elder Care and Estate Planning Attorney

Navigating the costs of long-term care can be a complicated and challenging experience, which is why it’s so important to plan ahead. The need for long-term care can arise suddenly, and if you haven’t properly prepared for this possibility, you may find yourself scrambling for help. Meeting with an experienced elder care and estate planning attorney can help you plan for whatever may happen to you and your family, and help you rest easy knowing your family’s assets are safe.

At Miller Estate & Elder Law, we have many years of experience helping people care for their loved ones—while protecting their hard-earned savings. Contact us today and start putting your family first.


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