When You or a Loved One Is Diagnosed with Dementia, What Comes Next?

An adult daughter hugs her elderly mother after a dementia diagnosis

By Jeannie Finnegan, CDP, Elder Care & Dementia Care Specialist at Stanton Aging Solutions

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be very devastating, challenging, overwhelming, and emotional. Dementia doesn’t just affect the one diagnosed — it often impacts everyone in the family, close friends, and even neighbors and co-workers. However, being informed and getting connected to appropriate support after a dementia diagnosis can help you know what to expect and what to do next. This checklist can help you get started.

Learn about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia

Different kinds of dementia can vary in their symptoms, progression, treatment, and approach to care. Therefore, it is important to learn as much as possible about the type of dementia that has been diagnosed. There are many great resources that can provide helpful information, including the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Depending on how advanced the disease is when diagnosed, additional care support or specialized dementia care may be needed, either at home or in a care community. At Stanton Aging Solutions, we believe that providing specialized dementia care and therapeutic strategies as part of a relationship-centered and positive approach will make a world of difference to our clients and their families. For more information on our Concierge Connection Care (“CCC”) for those with dementia, click here.

Get regular medical care

Make sure you or your loved one schedule regular appointments with a primary care physician and/or specialist (neurologist, neuropsychiatrist, geriatric psychiatrist). You may also want to consider visiting a memory disorders clinic. A memory clinic can provide a comprehensive evaluation, innovative treatment, and education to patients with a range of memory conditions. We can help families find the best memory clinic and make recommendations for neurologists and other healthcare providers. We can also connect clients and families to appropriate local services and support. Learn more.

Do some financial, legal, and long-term care planning

If you have been recently diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is critical that you update or create a will, living will, heath care power of attorney, and financial power of attorney. By anticipating your future needs and planning for your own future while you still can, your family will not have the burden of making those decisions for you. To find an attorney, you can contact your local bar association or the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. We can make recommendations for local elder care attorneys and help with difficult discussions about advanced care planning, and help explore care and living options that will ensure the highest quality of life. Together, we can also review finances, including insurance policies and sources of income to find the best fit for you or your loved one’s long-term care plans. Learn more.

Get help as needed and be safe

You or your loved one may need help with routine, day-to-day tasks, such as taking medications, keeping track of appointments, grocery shopping, or transportation.  We can assist in locating and putting into place the resources and technology solutions that can help in all of these areas. If you are concerned about your own safety or that of a loved one, we can schedule a home safety assessment, which may be covered by Medicare. We can also provide “Well-being Check-In Visits.”

In some situations, the family feels that placement in an assisted living or memory community is needed for the safety and wellbeing of their loved one and the family. This is a complex decision that can be overwhelming. We can make recommendations of communities to fit your loved one’s needs, wants, and financial resources.

If you feel you or your loved one are at risk of falling, an emergency response system can provide needed security. A special pendant or bracelet lets you summon help if you fall and can’t physically reach the phone. If you or your loved one lives alone, identify someone who can visit regularly and be an emergency contact.

The need for safety also extends to the road. It is crucial to talk with a physician if you are confused while driving, have gotten lost, or need lots of help with directions. We can help you get a driving evaluation to ensure that you are safe on the road.

Stay healthy

Staying active and getting exercise can help those with Alzheimer’s or dementia feel better, maintain strength, and keep their hearts healthy. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will provide needed energy and nutrition. You or your loved one should also continue to enjoy social connections with family and friends, pursue hobbies, and go on outings as part of good emotional and mental health. Our Concierge Connection Care can help your loved one by utilizing cognitive engagement activities, purposeful/real-life pursuits, therapeutic music, reminiscence therapy, artful expressions, sensory stimulation, and light exercise for optimal quality of life. Learn more.

If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, we are here to be your partner in care, so please reach out to us. You don’t have to navigate this journey alone.

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