Caring for a loved one who is suffering from dementia is extremely difficult, both emotionally and practically. You may be dealing with confusing thoughts and feelings about the issue and intense anxiety about what the future holds. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan in place. By planning ahead, you can include your loved one in the decision making process, taking their care preferences into account. You can also make the difficult decisions while you are feeling relatively calm, sparing yourself the anguish of having to make tough choices during more emotional times later down the road.
There are a few key points that must be considered when someone is undergoing care for dementia. Include the following in your thought process as you develop your dementia care plan for your loved one.
Assess Current Needs
Begin by taking an assessment of your loved one’s current needs. You can start this process by simply observing them for a period of 24 hours and determining how capable they are of getting through their day. Are there particular pain points that need to be addressed? Pay special attention to:
- Medical details. Consult with your loved one’s physician, as the doctor may be able to provide physiological details about their condition. You should also ask the doctor to help you compile a full list of the medications your loved one should be taking.
- Emotional health. Dementia is a frustrating and at times frightening condition. Take note of how your loved one is handling the stress. If anxiety or anger are exacerbating the issue, consider seeking out a therapist for additional help.
- Safety. Is your loved one attempting to do things that pose a risk to their well being or that of others? Consider whether or not they should be driving, cooking, or leaving home on their own.
Take Stock of Finances
It’s a difficult fact to confront, but nevertheless, your loved one’s financial situation is going to dictate a part of what comes next. Begin by contacting their health insurance company. Find out what options are covered so you’ll know, moving forward, what choices you have. You should also take a look at your loved one’s personal savings, as well as the potential financial contribution you and anyone else involved can make. You can’t put a monetary value on the comfort of your loved one, but knowing how much money is available to work with will make it easier to move forward.
Establish a Living Situation
You may feel it best for your loved one to cohabitate with you, or with another member of the family. If so, make sure you have a support system so your day to day life can continue and your loved one can receive the care they need. A daytime companion can help while you’re at work, for example, or you can share time with another family member.
It may be best for your loved one to transition to an assisted living community. These facilities provide elders with companionship and activities to fill their days, along with the care they need to live safely and comfortably. Many such communities are designed with the goal of enriching seniors’ lives. Colorado Assisted Living, for example, provides such amenities as swimming, golf, and outings for residents’ enjoyment. Look for similar facilities in your own area.
Those facing dementia rely on their loved ones to step up and help create a safe and happy life for them. It’s a challenging transition, but with a plan, it is one you can manage.