24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Suite D2000
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
By Sarah Meinhart
The laws of physics play out in our world; starting with the Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “…for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The Stay Safe, Stay Home Order was no exception. As we quarantined in our homes in 2020 to prevent overwhelming our hospitals with Covid-19 cases, a reaction occurred – elective medical appointments for the elderly were cancelled and many elderly people were isolated from their families.
Without preventative care appointments available, appointments were postponed and eventually moved to virtual, leaving the elderly were unable to be diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Fewer interactions with their elderly loved ones meant that fewer family members became aware of their loved ones’ memory loss.
A 2018 study 1 at Johns Hopkins found that among those with probable dementia, nearly 60% were either undiagnosed or unaware of their diagnosis. In a 2016 Johns Hopkins study it was found that the lack of diagnosis created added risks for those with dementia. The study, “…found that those who show signs of probable dementia but are not yet formally diagnosed are nearly twice as likely as those with such a diagnosis to engage in potentially unsafe activities, such as driving, cooking, and managing finances and medications.”
Based upon these studies, it’s fair to say that the undiagnosed elderly with memory loss are at an even higher risk during the Covid-19 pandemic of engaging in unsafe activities. What can family members and close friends do to help at risk elderly loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic? They can:
1) Research early signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.
2) Stay in touch virtually and engage as much as possible with your elderly loved ones to keep their minds actively stimulated.
3) Keep a log of moments of forgetfulness.
4) Know when a loved one may venture out on a seemingly routine trip to the grocery store and be sure to connect with them when they return.
5) Talk to older loved ones about Powers of Attorney for financial decision making and a Patient Advocate Designation for medical decision making.
6) Speak with an attorney about the standards required for executing Powers of Attorney.
7) Seek professional advice about Guardianships and Conservatorships.
If you’re interested in learning more about Power of Attorneys, Guardianship and/or Conservatorships for loved ones with memory loss suffering through Covid-19, please contact Sarah Meinhart, an estate planning attorney in Ann Arbor at 734-665-4441 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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