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Checklist: 7 Things Every Alzheimer's Caregiver Should Know

Use these tips to help you keep your loved ones safe as you manage the financial aspects of caregiving.

IT CAN BE ENORMOUSLY CHALLENGING—both financially and emotionally—to care for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Your advisor can assist you in developing a plan that helps you manage the extra financial costs involved. But keeping your loved one safe at home often falls on you alone. Cynthia Hutchins, director of Financial Gerontology at Bank of America, recommends taking the following simple steps to care for your family member, even as you grapple with the financial challenges of caregiving. For information about planning ahead to cover the costs of a long-term illness for yourself or a family member, read “Will You Be Prepared to Cover the Costs of Long-Term Care?

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Illustration of a younger woman holding the arm of an older woman, surrounded by small items: a fire extinguisher, a medical alert bracelet, an emergency file and a rug. Title reads Checklist: Must-reading for the Alzheimer’s caregiver.

“These simple steps can help you keep your loved ones safe, as you grapple with the larger financial and emotional issues of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia,” says Cynthia Hutchins, director of Financial Gerontology at Bank of America.

Illustration of a stamped document. Reads: 1. Keep medical and financial records close at hand.

These include an advance medical directive, which describes your loved one’s treatment preferences, a durable power of attorney, which specifies who is allowed to make medical decisions for the patient, and an updated will. Talk to your advisor about other documents that might help, plus steps you might take to protect your assets in the future.

Illustration of a fire extinguisher. Reads: 2. Make sure smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are working properly.

Consider installing smoke detectors with flashing lights to help alert loved ones who may have impaired hearing. Find out about the cost of making other structural changes that could increase safety.

Illustration of a medical alert bracelet. Reads: 3. Purchase a medical alert bracelet.

This will inform a medical professional about any specialized needs your loved one might have in case she wanders off.

Illustration of a padlock. Reads: 4. Lock down potential hazards.

Install childproof locks on medicine and liquor cabinets, on kitchen cabinets containing cleaning supplies and on drawers containing knives, scissors or matches.

Illustration of a rug. Reads: 5. Plan ahead to prevent falls.

Remove scatter rugs, exposed extension cords and clutter. Install grab bars in bathrooms and increase lighting in stairwells, entries and halls. Use night lights where needed.

Illustration of a water meter. Reads: 6. Reduce water temperature.

Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to prevent scalding from hot water.

Illustration of an emergency file. Reads: 7. Prepare for emergencies.

Create and post a list of phone numbers for fire, poison control, your hospital and a designated friend who’s willing to help.

Illustration of a younger woman embracing an older woman.

For insights on how to manage the costs of caring for an ailing loved one, read “Financial Security for the Caregiver” from our Chief Investment Office.

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This material should be regarded as general information on health-care considerations and is not intended to provide specific health-care advice.

This article does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither the author nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this material.


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