Alzheimer's Disease is a disease which in its later stages significantly affects the minds of millions of California residents.  Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in mental functioning. There are a variety of causes.   Our attorneys are prepared to assist you with matters involving Alzheimer's Disease.

Alzheimer's can happen to anybody

Most people with dementia are older, but it is important to remember that older people do not get dementia. It is not a normal part of aging. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years. However, people in their 40s and 50s can also have dementia.  Are you concerned about the special needs of someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementia?  Call our lawyers.

The most common early symptoms:

The early symptoms of dementia are subtle and vary for each person and from day-to-day. Symptoms gradually get worse. Common symptoms include:

  • Memory problems, especially for recent events (long term memory usually remains in the early stages). 

  • Language and speech difficulties. 

  • Confusion, or getting lost. 

  • Personality changes and behavior changes. 

  • Apathy and withdrawal. 

  • Loss of ability to do familiar tasks.

  • Poor money judgment.

  • Many late bills or unpaid bills.

  • Loss of trust or becoming suspisious of persons, or in some cases becoming too trusting of others.

Types and causes:

There are many different types of dementia. The most common are: 

Alzheimer's disease - there is no known cause, except for a very small percentage of cases which are inherited. 

Vascular dementia - damage is caused by 'mini-strokes', risk may be able to be reduced by maintaining good cardiovascular health: not smoking, weight control, exercise. 

Pick's disease and frontal lobe dementia - damage starts in the front part of the brain, with personality and behavioral symptoms more common early on; the causes are unknown. 

Parkinson's disease - dementia is more common in people with Parkinson's but not everyone with Parkinson's gets dementia; causes are unknown. 

Alcohol related dementia - caused by too much alcohol, especially with a poor diet, low in Vitamin B1 (thiamine); can be prevented by avoiding alcohol abuse. 

AIDS related dementia - caused by the HIV virus, but does not affect everyone with HIV-AIDS. 

Huntington's disease: an inherited condition, dementia is usually an inevitable part of the deterioration.

Dementia and Aging

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are not normal parts of aging, although it is more common in older people.  People as young as 40 can get Alzheimer's disease. One in four people aged over 85 years have some form of dementia.

Diagnosis is important

It is important to confirm a diagnosis.  

Rule out other conditions which can be mistaken for dementia, such as depression, stress, pain, infection. 

Enable treatments to be discussed - there are treatments which can help some people. 

Help planning for the future to start early, while the person affected can still actively participate. 

Allow support to be arranged to assist both the person with dementia and their family.

A local doctor or specialist should conduct a full assessment. Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service (CDAMS) clinics can assist in diagnosis. If the person will not go to a doctor or the doctor is unwilling to take concerns seriously, seek advice on how to obtain Alzheimer/Dementia support services.

Is it dementia or is it something else?

There are a number of conditions that have symptoms similar to those of dementia. By treating these conditions, the symptoms will often disappear.

These include: 

Some vitamin deficiencies and hormone disorders; 
Medication clashes or over medication;
Brain tumor.

It is essential that a medical diagnosis is obtained at an early stage, when symptoms first appear, to ensure that a person who has a treatable condition is diagnosed and treated correctly.

Can dementia be inherited?

This will depend on the cause of the dementia, so it is important to have a firm medical diagnosis. If there are concerns about the risk of inheriting dementia, discuss it with a doctor or contact Alzheimer's Australia and speak to a counselor.

What can be done to help?

At present, there is no prevention or cure for most forms of dementia. However, some medications and alternative treatments have been found to reduce some symptoms. Community support is available for the person with dementia, their families and carers, and can make a positive difference to managing dementia.

Getting help early will make a difference

The earlier medical and legal help is found, the better the family and person with the disease will be. It is important to: 

  • Plan ahead - while the person can still legally sign documents, get enduring powers of attorney to manage financial affairs and medical decisions, and for conservatorship. 
  • Get information - find out about dementia and what lies ahead, being informed gives people more sense of control. 
  • Seek support - many people find it helpful to talk through what a diagnosis of dementia means and how they can make adjustments. 
  • Practical help - help in the home, respite so caregivers can have a break, the person with dementia going out to clubs, day centers or outings with friends, all make a positive difference.
  • Assess whether a Conservatorship is an option or necessary.

Getting Probate Legal Help in Los Angeles Now:

At the early stages of Dementia, if the patient has capacity to recognize his loved ones and identify the nature and extent of his assets, he can create a power of attorney, or trust to allow for another person to manage his assets in the event of his incapacity.

As the disease is progressive, in the later stages of the disease, the above options may become unavailable and the means for taking care of a person's legal and financial affairs becomes limited to the Conservatorship process. (Please see our article regarding Conservatorships)

The importance of recognizing the symptoms of Dementia or Alzheimer diseases is to be able to plan for the health and financial needs of the patient which often is ignored as family members are overwhelmed by managing the disease itself. Our Elder Law attorneys can help you with determining the best resources for your Elder legal needs.

Support services

There is a wide range of community services which help both the person with dementia and their carers throughout the course of the disease. These include: 

Dementia Helpline. 
Support and information groups, for people in the early stages of dementia and their carers. 
Carer education and training programs. 
Books, videos and other resources. 
Counseling and practical advice, for individuals or family groups. 
Alzheimer / Dementia support groups. 
Telephone support programs. 
Adult Day Care centers. 
Respite care, including in-home, out-of-home and flexible care such as holidays. 
Home care and meals on wheels.
High and low level aged care facilities.

Things to remember

Dementia is a progressive decline in mental functioning .

There are many causes of dementia, Alzheimer's disease is just one of them.

While dementia is more common in older people, it is not a normal part of aging.    Talk to us about power of attorney documents, estate planning, and conservatorships for elderly persons with Alzheimers.   

We are your Los Angeles Alzheimer's Attorneys.   Probate, Trust and Conservatorships often intersect in Los Angeles based on the facts of the case.   We are well-versed in all of those areas and can provide you with expert opinions.   Free Probate Consultation Los Angeles.

We serve all of Los Angeles County and parts of Ventura and Orange County.   Our Alzheimer's Attorneys help clients in Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Santa Monica, Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Tarzana, Reseda, Encino, Northridge, Granada Hills, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Venice, North Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, and Culver City.  Call us if you want to legally protect a loved one with Alzheimer's or Dementia.   Our LA Probate Lawyer can help.



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