Since we’re in the business of planning people’s plans for later life, it’s inevitable that we regularly come up against the hypothetical scenarios of age-related illness. Chief among these is Alzheimer’s.
It’s natural to be concerned about the possibility of this illness. The concept of losing your sense of self and agency is frightening, after all, and has significant impact on the plans you will make. According to The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, there are currently an estimated 64,000 people with dementia in Ireland. By 2045, that number is expected to increase to 150,000.
The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day this year was “never too early, never too late”, which underlines the importance of early detection but also the importance of proactive risk reduction – both in terms of health and wellbeing, and your affairs.
Since I first wrote about Alzheimer’s two years ago, new developments and positive results have emerged from two trials shown to help slow down the effect of Alzheimer’s.
In 2022, the drug lecanemab, an antibody which targets the amyloid in the brain, was shown to moderately slow down the progression of the disease. This year, the TRAILBLAZER-ALZ2 Phase III Clinical Trial studying the drug Donanemab has shown a slowdown in the progress of Alzheimer’s Disease for people in the early stages.
These drugs still await approval in Ireland. However, it’s welcome news for those whose lives are affected by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Early intervention, healthy lifestyle choices, and regular monitoring of cognitive health are encouraged as preventative measures. These should continue even after a diagnosis has been made. Managing lifestyle and health factors can potentially slow disease progression and improve quality of life.
There’s nothing new about this advice, and is certainly good advice for everyone, not just those with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis:
• Exercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be strenuous and should definitely be something you enjoy: perhaps swimming, dancing, walking (a walk to your local café or pub counts here too!), gardening, or cooking.
• Keep your brain active. Crosswords, sudoku, playing the piano, card games or join a club or volunteer.
• Eat healthily. A balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, and limit fat, salt and sugar.
Legal & Financial Affairs
“Never too early, never too late” is certainly important for detection and risk reduction. But one key area where it’s especially pertinent is making sure you have your legal and financial affairs in order. This applies to all of us, regardless of health.
This is something that I strongly believe in and advocate for, especially after my own personal experience with it. Recently, a family member who was no longer considered “compos mentis” (with capacity of mind) was found to have no living Will or Power of Attorney in place.
In this situation, I witnessed first-hand the stress and distress caused by having to deal with the financial and legal implications of this. It was an added burden at an already upsetting time.
Had they foreseen this, I’m sure the family member in question would have put their affairs in order. But as so many of us do, I suspect they simply considered it “a task for later”. The problem is, you never know what “later” will bring.
If you take one action away from this article today, make an appointment with your solicitor and start this important process.
My blog here provides details about what Legal, Financial, Health, and Safety plans to put in place or consider. I’d argue the peace of mind that having these plans in place will give you counts as proactive risk reduction!
Sinéad Clinton Caldas
Head of Compliance
Metis Ireland Financial Planning Ltd t/a Metis Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
All content provided in these blog posts is intended for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice. You should always engage the services of a fully qualified financial adviser before entering any financial contract. Metis Ireland Financial Planning Ltd t/a Metis Ireland will not be held responsible for any actions taken as a result of reading these blog posts.