The diagnosis of either one is enough to tear a family apart…and tear a care-giver apart. Yet, horrible as it is, there are some families dealing with both…a senior whose body is being ravaged by cancer while his mind is being ravaged by Alzheimer’s.
When that happens, you’re not only dealing, of course, with someone whose life may be in danger…but who also has no clue about it.
Assuming your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s first, and then cancer, the first step is elementary. Have a meeting – a sit-down meeting! – with the doctor. Bring the family; this is a time when everyone should be involved. Ask the doctor specific questions about the nature of the cancer, the stage, treatment options, and the prognosis. And don’t let her out of the room until your questions are answered! (One trick I’ve used is to have a family member or two block the door. Yes, doctors are very busy people. But if you let the doctor out of the room without getting answers in a sit-down meeting, good luck trying to pin her down when she’s flying around the hospital!)
Surgery or aggressive treatment is less likely for a patient who also has Alzheimer’s. Often, it’s just not worth the risk, particularly if the patient can’t understand her own situation, or assist in her own recovery. And if surgery is done, afterwards the patient will be even more confused than usual.
If the diagnosis is not a good one, you may want to meet with the folks at your local hospice. The goal of hospice is to keep a terminal patient at home, in familiar surroundings and with familiar faces. They can provide all sorts of services to the patient…and all sorts of support to the family.
If your family is in this situation, “support” is a very important word. The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates practices Elder Law…and we’ve been providing support for South Florida families with aging loved ones for 33 years. Not only with regard to Alzheimer’s or life-threatening diseases, but also with estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term-care planning, issues with the VA or Medicaid, and protecting their assets.
If your family needs this support, we can provide it. At the touch of a button.