Oliver: Free virtual conference offers information, tips on dealing with dementia

When a loved one receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s as if the bottom drops out of their life and the lives of those closest to them.

It’s hard enough to process that the progressive neurological disease has no cure, but then there’s all the legal, logistical and emotional details that require attention.

In 2015, when my husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 57, we heard the words that no one ever wants to hear: “Get your affairs in order.”

Before one even has a chance to fully understand the journey they are being forced to take, there are decisions that must be made.

Good thing there are resources out there to help. We caregivers just need to know where to find them.

That’s why I’m happy to pass along information about an upcoming Alzheimer’s educational conference for Illinois residents that is being put on by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

This free, virtual program will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 4 as part of the foundation’s Educating America Tour.

Here are the sessions:

· Testamentary Capacity and Delirium: The presence of delirium can complicate the evaluation of an older person’s testamentary capacity, which is their legal and mental ability to make or alter a valid will. It also complicates the evaluation of their susceptibility to undue influence. Dr. Sanford Finkel will discuss research to assess one’s testamentary capacity and identify questions that should be asked in cases where someone changes their will or estate plan toward the end of their life in the presence of delirium. Finkel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago Medical School and a member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board.

· A Dementia Diagnosis ­– Now What? When a loved one is diagnosed with a dementia-related illness, it is important to make sure that you have the right legal documents in place. Amy Delaney, founding partner of Delaney, Delaney & Voorn Ltd., will advise on legal strategies that must be considered after a diagnosis of dementia, including levels of capacity required to execute certain estate planning documents, how family members can help the process of estate planning, obtaining medical evidence to support competency and what to do if the window of opportunity for estate planning has closed. Delaney is a board member and president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys in Illinois, is a certified elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, and professor emeritus of the John Marshall Law School.

· A Caregiver’s Testimony: When a dementia-related illness enters your life, it can be overwhelming. Chicago’s Luisa Echevarria will talk about her own experiences as a caregiver to her mother and grandmother, both of whom lived with Alzheimer’s disease. She will discuss what strategies worked for her and offer caregiver tips to help improve quality of life. Echevarria is a member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Board of Directors and is involved with numerous Chicago-area community organizations. She is the former director of community empowerment for Univision Communications Inc. in Chicago.

“Knowledge is a useful and powerful tool that can help make any situation easier to navigate, especially something a challenging as caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s president and CEO Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. said in a news release. “Connecting families with useful, practical information and support that can help them now and be better prepared for the future is what this conference is all about. Whether Alzheimer’s is affecting your family, you are a caregiver or just want to learn more, you can participate in this free, virtual conference from the comfort of your home or office.”

For information or to register, go to

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.