Scientists are studying how caregivers deal with people who have dementia, focusing on what they can do rather than what they’ve lost. A study by a speech professor at Ohio State University, who is studying communication with dementia patients, showed that making memory flashcards helps Alzheimer patients remember. A caregiver can put photographs of family members on flash cards with the name of the person in the photograph written underneath the picture. This professor, Michelle S. Bourgeois, developed some of the first memory books using picture and sentences to help people with memory problems recall past events.
Alzheimer’s disease affects the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is critical for learning and memory processes. Less affected are long term memory and skills like reading. Even when dementia causes patients to lose their ability to speak, they can read the flashcards and smile or nod when they recognize the concept on the flashcard. The technique has also been used to deal with anger and anxiety in dementia patients. Bourgeois has taught thousands of caregivers her methods and says it seems to help them feel happier and content.
It is so important when you have a family member or loved one that you suspect has a form of dementia, to not only have them physically evaluated but also see that they create an estate plan before they become unable to execute such documents. If a conservator has to be appointed through the court system, it is costly, time-consuming, and may not result in a distribution of assets after death that the individual would have choosen. As an example, Ann is a single woman who has no children, and wants her niece to receive her asset after she dies. She can provide for her niece in her trust as long as she still has capacity. If she fails to create a trust before she becomes incapacitated, the conservator who is appointed by the Probate Court, can petition the court under what is called a petition for substituted judgment (Probate Code sections 2580-2586)and execute a trust on behalf of the conservatee. However, the conservator can only execute a trust which will leave the assets to the conservatee’s heirs at law. Since Ann was survived by 2 siblings, her estate would be distributed to them and nothing to the niece.
Call the estate planning lawyers at Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation to set up a complimentary consultation about these issues and any other estate planning needs.