The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Traumas of Mild Cognitive Impairment, LBD Style

Mild cognitive impairment seems to becoming more common—or more correctly,  more commonly diagnosed. In LBD, this often means that irrational behavior precedes obvious cognitive dysfunction. The person is able to remember well, appears to be able to drive and make the appropriate decisions about stopping, lane changes, etc, and is probably still able to keep up with a job. But there is faulty thinking that can result in poor, sometimes disastrous decisions,  or delusions that lead to paranoia and irrational anger, and hallucinations may have started as well.

We’ve heard of people at this stage making decisions that depleted joint bank accounts, deprived their spouse of many years of spousal retirement benefits, alienated grown children and friends, or angered bosses and customers. One sad and worried woman told of how her husband moved out—angry and making the usual irrational claims of infidelity—just when he was beginning to need her help as a caregiver. Obviously, there has been a change of personality in these people, of their outlook on life, and yet there’s no hope of declaring incompetency. They just don’t meet the cognitive requirements.

We have no answers for this. No easy way of dealing with it. Naturally, all the usual behavior management techniques we’ve discussed before may help, but at this stage, you may not even get a chance to use them before you find your empty bank account, etc. This issue has not yet been addressed adequately by the medical or legal communities. Yes, LBD is still young, still relatively unknown by the general public. But the issue remains. Competency requirements that fit Alzheimer's just don't always work for LBD. Any ideas?

There is one, if you can do it soon enough. Find an attorney who practices elder law as early in your LBD journey as you can. Actually, every couple should do this....even before there is any evidence of illness. Make all the decisions you need to make and draw up all the papers you need to have while your loved one can still participate. Then, armed with a power of attorney, etc., etc., (the etcs will differ with each family) you will be better able to deal with the messes that LBD can make. This isn't the complete answer, by any means. But it is a start.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this is so very true. And at the age of 37, not something I thought I would be doing. But I'm so glad I was advised to sort this out now, while my husband is still aware enough to be supportive of me having the power to deal with things down the track, on his behalf.