senior woman knitting

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease. These statistics are sobering, especially if you or a loved one is growing older and facing the potential onset of the disease. While many people address the reality of Alzheimer’s through denial or by practicing extreme preventative measures, these measures may only be able to postpone or reduce the effects of the disease. Especially if Alzheimer’s runs in your family, it is wise to add preparative measures to your preventative ones. Rather than simply taking steps to ward off the disease, you may want to take these steps to prepare for it, in case you, like millions of other Americans, are effected by Alzheimer’s.

Financial and Legal

When you reach the later stages of Alzheimer’s, you will need to transition to full-time care, whether that means hiring a caregiver or entering an assisted-living facility. These care options can be expensive, which means you need to plan ahead for them. According to Genworth Financial Inc., hiring a caregiver costs an average of $20 per hour while a private room in a nursing home averages around $250 per day. Before you reach the point in which you require 24/7 care, decide now how you’ll pay it, and meet with a lawyer specializing in elder law to get all of your care decisions in writing. You should also determine who will have power of attorney if you lose the capacity to make legal and medical decisions yourself.

Home and Safety

Most seniors would like to age at home, but caring for someone with Alzheimer’s at home can be dangerous if you don’t prepare properly. Alzheimer’s affects the sufferer’s judgment and ability to recognize danger. As you look at your home, or the home of a loved one, do so with the eyes of a child and try to pick out possible risks. Remove tripping hazards, lock up medications and chemicals, remove space heaters, and add safety measures, like locks, to the stove to prevent potential fires. You can also improve the functionality of your home by adding labels to drawers, or by narrowing down the options of cups or clothing items, which will help your loved one to maintain independence.

Mental and Physical

Alzheimer’s can alter your ability to perform everyday tasks. In a TED Talk on the subject, Alanna Shaikh recommends preparing for the mental and physical effects of Alzheimer’s by changing your hobbies and exercise routine. She suggests learning new simple hobbies, like knitting or drawing, that your hands and mind will be able to do easily after Alzheimer’s sets in. These basic activities can help slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s and keep you engaged and happy longer. Similarly, Shaikh recommends physically preparing for Alzheimer’s by improving your balance through yoga or tai chi and enhancing your muscle strength through weight training. These physical preparations will reduce muscle tremors and help you to avoid falls and injuries later on.

Simply because you prepare for Alzheimer’s does not mean you’ve accepted defeat. These preparative actions should be taken alongside preventative measures. You may very well be among the 8 out of 9 seniors who are not effected by Alzheimer’s. However, by planning for the possibility of Alzheimer’s, you will offer both yourself and your family peace of mind, and you will ensure that you receive the care you need if or when Alzheimer’s sets in.