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More men take on caregiver roles for their wives with Alzheimer's

As many California families have learned, dealing with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia is a challenging journey. Alzheimer's and dementia affect not only the people diagnosed with the disease, but also their family members and loved ones who must adjust to this new reality. In  addition to the emotional concerns, many family members of people with Alzheimer's struggle to address financial and long-term care concerns.

Two recent studies, however, show that more and more men are stepping up to the plate when their wives are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. According to a news report on these studies, almost 40 percent of the caregivers of people with dementia or Alzheimer's are men.

This represents a sharp increase from just 15 years ago when only 19 percent of such caregivers were men.

These studies, performed by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving, found that one reason behind this trend is the fact that far more women over 65 suffer from Alzheimer's than men.

Changes in the economy, resulting in many layoffs and early retirements, as well as cultural shifts regarding gender roles have likely also attributed to the increased number of male caregivers.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's, or any debilitating illness, can be overwhelming at times, but many families decide that it is well worth it to take on this challenge.

When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia here in California, there are several financial and legal decisions to consider in order to prepare for the road ahead:

1. Update the estate plan and consider conservatorship or a special needs trust. It is wise to update important estate planning documents and make arrangements if the person is no longer able to handle their finances.

2. Consider and plan for the cost of care. It is often wise to work with an elder law attorney in evaluating payment options for care.

3. Locate community resources. There are a number of programs--such as Meals on Wheels, for example--that may be able to help your family.

Dealing with an illness in the family is never easy. By enlisting advocates and seeking counsel, families are often able to feel prepared and supported during such trying times.

Source: USA Today, "More men take on caregiver role," Karina Bland, June 23, 2013

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