The Symptoms of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Here are 7 key symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Many people face cognitive challenges as they age, such as memory loss.  Some suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and some even have early-onset Alzheimer’s.  Considerable’s recent article entitled “7 surprising early signs of Alzheimer’s” provides us with some signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Theft or other law-breaking. Any behavioral change as people age is of concern, but this can be a sign of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), another progressively damaging, age-related brain disorder. FTD usually hits adults aged 45-65. People’s executive function—their ability to make decisions—can be impacted by FTD, which may explain why they become unable to discern right from wrong.  I have had clients in the past discover this condition after an arrest or fine lead to a medical exam.

Frequent falls. A study of 125 older adults asked them to record how frequently in an eight-month period that they fell or tripped. Researchers examined the brain scans of those who fell most frequently and saw a correlation between falls and early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Forgetting an object’s function. We all forget where we put the keys. However, if you can’t remember what a key is for, or where dirty dishes are supposed to go, then it may be the first signs of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.

Inappropriate diet. Prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s, patients typically to eat more (roughly 500 calories more a day) than their aging counterparts but they still tend to lose weight. Doctors think this is a metabolic change. Some elderly actually eat inanimate objects prior to their diagnosis, but researchers don’t know the reason. Because Alzheimer’s and dementia affect the brain’s memory, it may be because their brain receives hunger signals but is unable to discern how to react to them. Some patients eat paper or other inedible objects.

Inability to recognize sarcasm. If you fail to recognize sarcasm or take it very literally and seriously, it may be a sign of atrophy in your brain. A study at the University of California – San Francisco found that Alzheimer’s patients and those with Frontotemporal Disease were among those who couldn’t recognize sarcasm in face-to-face encounters. The brain’s posterior hippocampus is impacted, which is where short-term memory is stored and where a person sorts out such things, like sarcasm.

Depression. If someone has never suffered from clinical depression but develops it after age 50, it could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t mean if you’re diagnosed with depression in older age that you will develop Alzheimer’s or other cognitive decline. However, get treatment soon because some researchers believe that hormones released in the depressed brain may damage certain areas of it, leading to the development of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

Unfocused Staring. Alzheimer’s Disease is a change in cognitive and executive functioning in the brain. This means that your ability to recall facts, memories and information is compromised, as well as the ability to make decisions. The brain becomes unfocused and staring in a detached way may be an early sign of so-called “tangles” in your brain.

If you are interest in this topic, I also wrote a blog on early onset dementia more generally which you can find here.  https://www.galliganmanning.com/what-do-we-know-about-early-onset-dementia/

These symptoms may be signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, or they may be the signs of other underlying issues. If you or any of your loved ones have any of these signs, consult your doctor.  This may be a sign of something else but talk to your doctor to be safe.

Reference: Considerable (May 12, 2020) “7 surprising early signs of Alzheimer’s”

Continue Reading

Is Long Term Care Insurance Really a Good Idea?

Clients are often concerned that long term care insurance is too costly, but it may not be compared to the cost of private paying long term care.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “Is Long-Term Care Insurance Right For You?” says that a big drawback for many is the fact that long term care insurance (“LTCI”) is expensive. However, think about the costs of long term care. For example, the current median annual cost for assisted living is $43,539, and for a private room in a nursing home, it’s more than $92,000.  In many urban areas it is much higher, so utilizing long term care insurance my be best.

Another issue is that there’s no way to accurately determine if in fact you’ll even need long term care. Much of it depends on your own health and family history. However, planning for the possibility is key and unfortunately most clients don’t plan for long term care either with insurance, retirement or in their estate plans.

Remember that Medicare and other types of health insurance don’t cover most of the cost of long term care—what are known as “activities of daily living,” like bathing, dressing, eating, using the bathroom and moving. Medicare will only pay for medically necessary skilled nursing and home care, such as giving shots and changing dressings and not assisted-living costs, like bathing and eating. Supplemental insurance policies generally don’t pay for this type of care.  Those who meet financial guidelines may receive care provided under Medicaid or other benefits such as Veterans benefits.

It is important to shop around as there are no one-size-fits-all long term care insurance policies. Check the policy terms and be sure you understand:

  • The things that are covered, such as skilled nursing, custodial care, assisted living and in home care
  • If Alzheimer’s disease is covered as it’s a leading reason for needing long-term care
  • If there are any limitations on pre-existing conditions
  • The maximum payouts, including if maximum payouts are by day or year
  • If the payments are adjusted for inflation, which depending on the time of purchase might be key
  • The lag time until benefits begin
  • How long benefits will last, including whether there are lifetime caps on the amount paid or time periods paid
  • If there’s a waiver of premium benefit, which suspends premiums when you are collecting long-term care benefits
  • If there’s a non-forfeiture benefit, which offers limited coverage even if you cancel the policy
  • If the current premiums are guaranteed in future years, or if there are limits on future increases
  • How many times rates have increased in the past 10 years
  • If you purchase a group policy through an employer, see if it is portable (if you can take it with you if you change jobs).

Typically, when you are between 55 to 60 is the most cost-effective time to buy LTCI, if you’re in good health. See my prior blog on this point.  https://www.galliganmanning.com/when-should-i-consider-long-term-care-insurance/   The younger you buy, the lower the cost. However, you will be paying premiums longer. Premiums usually increase as you get older and less healthy. There’s a possibility that you’ll be denied coverage, if your health becomes poor. Therefore, while it’s not inexpensive, buying LTCI sooner rather than later may be the best move.

The best thing to do is to consult your financial advisor and your insurance agent on whether a LTCI policy, and which, will work best for you.

Reference: Forbes (April 17, 2020) “Is Long-Term Care Insurance Right For You?”

Continue Reading

How to Be a Good Caregiver

Being a caregiver is both a rewarding and demanding role.  Here are some tips to be a good caregiver.

If you find yourself suddenly in a caregiving role, you may not know where to begin.  CaringBridge’s recent article entitled “5 Tips to Be a Good Caregiver” provides some great advice on how to be a good caregiver.

Communicate. This is the most important factor, when trying to be a good caregiver. Caregivers should strive to communicate with patience, understanding and empathy.  A person being taken care of can sometimes feel like they’re a burden or a nuisance. Good communication and reassurance can help prevent that. You should also have communication between you and your other family and friends. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but those who care about you will want to support you.

Take Care of Yourself.  When you’re constantly on call caring for a person who is ill, it’s easy to forget about your own needs. Caregivers can be so overwhelmed that they’re unable to take time for their other family or interests. They can feel guilty being away from the person in need.  Studies even show that serving as a caregiver often takes a toll on the caregiver’s health.

Your health and well-being are important too, and you can’t be a good caregiver to your loved one if you aren’t healthy. Prioritize your own health, physical and mental—it’s vital for both you and your loved one.

Have a Lot of Patience. This is important because it’s helpful to be patient with yourself. You’ll make mistakes, but remember that you’re trying your best, and no one’s perfect. You should also be aware that communication can sometimes be difficult when you’re caregiving. Your loved one might say or do something that hurts your feelings. This is often due to the underlying illness which may affect your loved one’s personality.  However, do your best to be patient and empathetic. Don’t take it personally. Try to look at the situation with understanding and acceptance to battle discouragement.  This article provides guidance on the topic as well.  https://www.galliganmanning.com/caring-for-an-elderly-parent-without-ruining-your-relationship/

Create Boundaries. When spending so much time with one person, and sharing their most intimate moments, it’s still important to have some boundaries. These can include you knowing your own limitations and what you’re comfortable doing for that person. Boundaries also apply to the person receiving the care and things, such as the way in which that want to be cared for and their likes and dislikes. Boundaries allow both people to be happier.

Remind Yourself of Your Mission. Sometimes, you can become a caregiver out of necessity or a sudden crisis. Nonetheless, at the center of the situation is love and empathy. Caregivers love and want the best for the person they’re helping. You should try to harness that compassion to keep you motivated through hard times.

Get Help.  With so many people serving as caregivers across the country, there are a wealth of resources to support caregivers and their loved ones.  Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, Dementia Society and others have information, support groups and other resources to help you in your mission.

Remember that a good caregiver is one who cares. You’re not expected to be perfect, so make certain that you give yourself just as much love and patience as you offer your patient.

Reference: CaringBridge (Feb. 13, 2020) “5 Tips to Be a Good Caregiver”

Continue Reading