Dealing with a Diagnosis of Dementia
According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, each year, nearly 10 million people across the globe receive a diagnosis of dementia. These people and their loved ones are suddenly faced with an uncertain future. Knowing how to prepare for such a diagnosis can seem overwhelming and you may not know where to turn for help.
One of the first things you should do is sit down with your family to discuss the situation and to plan ahead for the upcoming changes. This includes establishing some guidelines for care, determining alternate living possibilities, and meeting potential financial obligations that the future may bring.
Here are some tips to help ensure that the person with the diagnosis and their family members have their needs and wishes met as the disease progresses:
Learn all you can about the disease
Not all forms of dementia are the same. Learn as much as you can about the specific disease your loved one has and what changes you might expect. Knowing what challenges may lie ahead makes it easier to plan for and deal with them. Talk to your doctor about possible treatment options and what your specific prognosis is. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter and ask them for information and resources for assistance.
Develop a plan of care
Make plans about who will be the primary caregiver when the need arises. If the spouse is still alive and healthy, it’s likely those duties will fall to them. But caregiving is a highly demanding role and requires the assistance of more than one person. Create a plan of who is available to assist with caregiving duties. If there aren’t enough people available to provide adequate care, start researching home care or care management companies that can help provide relief. Pathways has more than 25 years of experience in the field of memory care.
Appoint a Power of Attorney/Health Care Proxy
Because there will likely come a time when the person can no longer make decisions for him/herself, it’s important to find someone trustworthy to make both medical (Health Care Proxy) and financial decisions (Power of Attorney) on the person’s behalf when that time comes. Consult with an elder law attorney to best understand your options, what’s involved and to complete the formal documents that will make it all legal.
Create a routine
As the disease progresses, anything new and strange may appear threatening to someone with memory loss. People with dementia tend to thrive on familiarity. It helps ground them and make sense of what may be becoming a more confusing world. When someone with memory loss recognizes something – like their favorite breakfast food, a favorite knickknack, or the morning paper – the more they understand the world. A routine can also make caregiving easier.
Investigate alternate living options
It’s likely that the symptoms of your loved one’s disease will worsen as the disease progresses. Often, this means keeping the person in the home is no longer feasible. Take the time now to investigate senior living communities in the area to discover which ones offer memory care. Pathways Care Solutions can help you locate the facilities in your area that provide these services.
Accept help from others
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other family members and friends for support, whether that is having them spend some time with your loved one so you can run errands, or just spending some time with you to share your feelings of how your new circumstances are affecting you. If you’re not sure where to begin, Pathways can provide an assessment of your loved one’s situation, create a plan of care and help you implement the plan throughout the stages of the disease.