It is incredible how entrepreneurs multi-task, recall facts at the speed of mercury, and retain figures about their company effortlessly. But what if all of that were to slip away like a light dimming from a door being slowly shut?
An entrepreneur relies heavily on his faculties, and that may be the very thing that he loses long before his clients. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. You wouldn't think that is something that most entrepreneurs should concern themselves with, until it hits close to home. An estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease in 2015.
As early as June 2014, serial entrepreneur B. Smith was diagnosed with Alzheimer. Barbara Smith was one of the first African American models to grace the cover of Mademoiselle. She then turned from being another pretty face to an entrepreneur, opening restaurants, selling merchandise, launching a television program and writing books. She's been called the black Martha Stewart. This hits close to home!
Alzheimer's may, at some point, affect you as a business owner. The following list can be signs for people under 65. If you notice the following symptoms of moderate stage Alzheimer's, please seek professional help:
- Increased memory loss and confusion
- Problems recognizing family and friends
- Continually repeating stories, favorite wants, or motions
- Difficulty doing things that have multiple steps, like getting dressed
- Lack of concern for hygiene and appearance
What you can do as an entrepreneur:
Knowing is always half the battle. Seek medical attention and learn as much as you can about the disease. You may find this to be disconcerting initially but you will be better prepared to do the many things that you will need to do to manage your mental health and well-being.
There are a variety of drugs that help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms at the onset of Alzheimer's. But, what is found to be effective is to keep your brain active. There are sites that help the brain to keep active, such as lumosity.com. According to Scientific American, there's huge potential for tapping into your own neuroplasticity (that is, the brain's ability to change itself by remodeling nerve cell connections after experience) to enhance mental fitness and prevent age-related memory decline. Exercise your brain for mental wellness.
Most business owners think of a successor based on retiring. However, things will likely change and while you are in a position to make intelligent decisions hire the right attorneys, identify the care that you may need at some point, and get your financial house in order. With an early diagnosis you will have the acumen to put critical financial and legal plans in place.
Understand What's Available
There are a variety of avenues you can take as an entrepreneur. You may file for disability insurance. However, the insurance plan must be in place before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease appear. So, if you don't have disability insurance, please explore that option. Then there is Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The law covers employers with 50 or more employees. You are allowed to take off up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage. Lastly, take advantage of your retirement benefits. Although you may not be of age, you may be able to utilize your retirement plan(s) as financial resources. Keep in mind that pension plans ordinarily offer benefits before retirement age when you are defined as disabled under the plan's guidelines.