Vaughn E. James. The Alzheimer's Advisor: A Caregiver's Guide to Dealing with the Tough Legal and Practical Issues. AMACOM. New York, NY. 2009. 300 pages. $14.96 from Amazon
Caring for a family member with Alzheimer's disease is complicated enough, but often overlooked are the legal implications of the disease. The Alzheimer's Advisor provides a guide to the legal and ethical aspects of caring for a family member with Alzheimer's.
The Alzheimer's Advisor is written by Vaughn James, an elder law professor at Texas Tech University School of Law who has personal experience with family members with Alzheimer's disease. While James touches on possible causes and symptoms of the disease, the bulk of the book addresses the legal challenges that arise when caring for an Alzheimer's patient. James stresses that legal assistance is needed as soon as possible because once a patient is in the final stages of the disease, he or she may not have the capacity to execute essential estate planning documents.
James discusses the various planning documents that are important for anyone to have, especially someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease, including powers of attorney, wills and trusts, living wills, and "do not resuscitate" orders. The presence of the disease complicates issues regarding many of these documents. For example, because Alzheimer's disease is technically not a terminal illness, it may not trigger a living will. James also explains the guardianship process, moving someone who is under guardianship, legal liability for patients who do something wrong, and paying for care. In addition, James provides tips for caregivers on how to cope with the stresses of caring for an Alzheimer's patient.
James's experience with family members with Alzheimer's disease lends the book a personal dimension. Using real-life examples, James provides a thorough and easy-to-read explanation of the complicated legal implications of having a family member with Alzheimer's disease.