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Checklist: 7 Things Every Alzheimer's Caregiver Should Know

Use these tips to help you keep your loved ones safe as you manage the financial aspects of caregiving

IT CAN BE ENORMOUSLY CHALLENGING—both financially and emotionally—to care for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Your advisor can help you come up with a plan that helps you manage the extra financial costs involved, but keeping your loved one safe at home often falls on you alone. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s director of financial gerontology, Cynthia Hutchins, recommends taking the following simple steps to care for your family member even as you grapple with the financial challenges of caregiving. For more tips, insights and advice, read the "The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity,” a Merrill Lynch study conducted in partnership with Age Wave.

“These simple steps can help you keep your loved ones safe, as you grapple with the larger financial and emotional issues of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia,” says Cynthia Hutchins, Merrill Lynch’s director of financial gerontology.

These include an advance medical directive, which describes your loved one’s treatment preferences, a durable power of attorney, which specifies who is allowed to make medical decisions for the patient, and an updated will. Talk to your advisor about other documents that might help, plus steps you might take to protect your assets in the future.

Consider installing smoke detectors with flashing lights to help alert loved ones who may have impaired hearing. Find out about the cost of making other structural changes that could increase safety.

This will inform a medical professional about any specialized needs your loved one might have in case she wanders off.

Install childproof locks on medicine and liquor cabinets, on kitchen cabinets containing cleaning supplies and on drawers containing knives, scissors or matches.

Remove scatter rugs, exposed extension cords and clutter. Install grab bars in bathrooms and increase lighting in stairwells, entries and halls. Use night-lights where needed.

Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to prevent scalding from hot water.

Create and post a list of phone numbers for fire, poison control, your hospital and a designated friend who’s willing to help.

Read “The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity” to learn more about how you can navigate life’s toughest and most rewarding job.

A private wealth advisor can help you get started.

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