When your parent or other older loved one started showing signs of mental decline, you may not have felt much concern at first. After all, you forget information or events sometimes yourself, and you did not feel the need to jump to conclusions when your mom or dad forgot your birthday or that you had plans to get together for lunch.

As time went on, however, you became more concerned over your loved one’s well-being. He or she may have begun to seem confused on many occasions and may have even presented you with hostility that you had never seen before. As a result, your worry grew to the point where you took your loved one to the doctor for an evaluation, and the diagnosis was Alzheimer’s disease.

Stages of decline

Your heart may have immediately sunk when you learned of the diagnosis, but the doctor may have informed you that Alzheimer’s disease has varying degrees of severity. While it may worsen over the years, your loved one could retain certain cognitive functions for some time. This information may have given you some sense of comfort, but it likely also triggered your desire to plan for the eventual care your parent or other loved one may need.

Long-term care planning

If the reaches of mental decline have not yet majorly affected your family member, he or she may still have time to create long-term care plans and other estate plans before losing the mental capacity to do so. During this time, you may want to discuss creating a power of attorney document with your loved one. This document could allow the person to appoint you or another trusted party as the agent who will handle financial decisions when your family member cannot.

Of course, for some people, Alzheimer’s disease can more severely and more rapidly affect them than others. In the event that your loved one’s mental decline took place too quickly for him or her to make valid appointments or plans, you may need to take action of your own.

Conservatorship

If you feel that your loved one’s mental state has declined to a point where he or she could get taken advantage of or make poor financial decisions, you may want to petition the court for conservatorship. This step could allow you to obtain control over your family member’s finances in order to protect his or her assets.