Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be overwhelming, both for the individual diagnosed and their loved ones. Here are some steps and recommendations on what to do after someone receives a dementia diagnosis:
Learn about the specific type of dementia that has been diagnosed. There are multiple types, and understanding the symptoms, progression, and available treatments will help in managing the condition. It may also help you prepare more for the future and help guide you on possible decisions that will need to be made.
Consult Medical Professionals and Plan for Care
Work closely with healthcare professionals who specialize in dementia. This is very important as there are improvements in care and treatment options happening all the time. A specialized professional can provide guidance on treatment options, care strategies, and help in developing a care plan tailored to your loved one’s individual needs.
Seek support from organizations, support groups, or online forums. Connecting with others facing similar situations can provide valuable insights, advice, and emotional support.
Legal and Financial Planning
Arrange legal and financial affairs while the person is still capable of making decisions. This includes setting up or updating their Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy document as well as ensuring that their Last Will and Testament and any trust documents are current and accurately reflect their wishes. Although not an easy conversation, find time to discuss their end-of-life wishes, including funeral planning, if possible.
Create a Safe Environment
Ensure the home is safe and adapted to the needs of the individual with dementia. Consider modifications like removing hazards, installing handrails, and simplifying daily routines. If their home is not a safe environment, what options are available to consider, i.e., assisted living, senior housing, rest home, nursing home?
Daily Routine and Support
Establish a structured routine. Encourage activities that stimulate the mind and promote physical health. Ensure consistent and understanding support for daily activities. If additional help is needed, begin by identifying services and agencies that could be helpful and exploring what options are available, as well as the cost for those services.
Monitor Health and Medication
Keep track of the individual’s health and medication schedule. Regular check-ups and discussions with healthcare professionals can help in managing the condition effectively. There are many smartphone and computer app options available to help, such as AARP Caregiving, Mindmate, and CareBetter to name a few.
Caring for the Caregiver
If you’re the primary caregiver, remember to take care of your own physical and mental well-being. Seek support from family, friends, or respite care to avoid burnout.
Encourage open communication with the person diagnosed. Being patient, empathetic, and maintaining good communication is essential in providing the best possible care.
Quality of Life
Focus on maintaining the individual’s quality of life. Engage in activities they enjoy, spend time with family and friends, and make efforts to keep them socially active.
Remember, each person living with dementia is unique, and it’s essential to adapt your approach to their specific needs and abilities. Seeking help from professionals and support networks is crucial in navigating the challenges that come with a dementia diagnosis.
Founded by a nurse attorney and with offices in Acton, Sudbury, and Andover, Massachusetts, Generations Law Group helps families navigate the complex areas of estate planning and elder law to inform and protect loved ones of every generation.