Alzheimer’s: Preserving Family Memories

Every year, Carol Magro would prepare a delicious Italian feast for the holidays. Five years ago, her daughter Barbara noticed that her mother was getting tired, confused, and didn’t remember the ingredients for some of the dishes that she had prepared for nearly 50 years. A few months later Carol was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.

In an effort to preserve her mother’s love of Italian cooking and the memories those dishes evoked, Barbara created a book called “Recipes To Remember.” And to show her commitment to the fight against Alzheimer’s, she donates a portion of the proceeds from her book to help fund Alzheimer’s research.

Like Magro, many adult children, siblings, and Alzheimer’s caregivers are taking steps to preserve their own family memories. As Barbara Magro says, “save it and savor it and write it down because when it’s gone, it’s lost forever.”

What are some things other families have done to keep memories alive?

  • Maria Shriver’s father is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his tremendous football talent with Indiana University in the 1940’s and the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1940’s and 1950’s. To ensure that no one forgets about him and his extraordinary talent, she created two documentaries, entitled “ Dear Dad” and “PIHOS: A Moving Biography.” She interviewed people representing various times in his life, including famous coaches and players such as Coach Mike Ditka, Al Wistert, Bill Mackrides, and Pat Summerall, to reveal who he was as a man, a friend, a player, a teammate.
  • Banker White, a documentary filmmaker, co-produced a PBS documentary focusing on his mother’s and grandmother’s Alzheimer’s and his grandmother’s artwork, entitled “The Genius of Marian.” The documentary spanned the first three years of his mother’s illness, including footage of her everyday life and progressive illness and the therapeutic benefits of old family videos and showcased some of his grandmother’s whimsical paintings that hang on the walls of the White’s Massachusetts home. Read more about Marian on our blog.
  • Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks wrote a song entitled “Silent House,” about her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s and the house where she used to live. Read more and listen to the song here.
  • Susan Kiser Scharff and her sister Ann Kiser Zultner wrote a book entitled, “Dementia, the Journey Ahead” and created a Facebook reference guide for caregivers assisting those with Alzheimer’s, in memory of her husband, Red, who had Alzheimer’s and died in 2006.

One way you can preserve memories of the way a loved one was before Alzheimer’s is to hire a personal historian, who can interview you and record your voice, craft a narrative and produce a book, turn your story into a video, or archive your photos and memorabilia. If you desire, you can produce a video on your own using simple software, such as Windows Movie Maker, or even simply use the voice recorder on your smart phone to record a personal history of your loved one.

An estimated 44 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, and the global economic costs total $604 billion, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s could rise to 135 million. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you can keep the memory of who he or she was before the diagnosis alive through the ways described above, or in your own personal way.

Medicaid Planning for Alzheimer’s

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is life-changing for both diagnosed individuals and those close to them.  While it’s not easy to think about, if your loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s imperative to make an appointment with a Certified Elder Law Attorney, such as myself, to determine who to name to make legal, financial, and medical decisions when your loved one is no longer able to do so. In addition, if your loved one hasn’t done so already, it is also of utmost importance to determine how he or she will pay for long-term care without financially bankrupting the family.

Medicaid Asset Protection

People with Alzheimer’s live on average four to eight years after they’re diagnosed, but some may live 20 years beyond their initial diagnosis. Do you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s? Persons with Alzheimer’s and their families face special legal and financial needs. At Farr Law Firm, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from dementia and their loved ones.  If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia or memory loss, we can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs.  We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits. Please contact Farr Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible in Fairfax at 703-691-1888, in Fredericksburg at 540-479-1435, or in Washington, D.C. at 202-587-2797 to schedule your appointment for a consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.