If your loved one has just been diagnosed with dementia, you may have seen it coming for a while and had time to research what's next. Some people, however, have no idea of their friend or family member's memory loss, and a diagnosis like Alzheimer's disease can come as a shock. It's important to look into next steps to understand how you can help. Here are some ideas of what is to come after a dementia diagnosis:
Talking about dementia
Dementia doesn't only affect the person who has been diagnosed with the condition. Everyone in his or her life must come to terms with what can be a difficult thing to wrap your head around. The person you care about is going to need help and support for the rest of his or her life. To do that while staying in good mental health yourself, consider seeking therapy. Talking about the diagnosis with a professional can help you understand exactly what is going on and learn some of what to expect from the person as his or her memory loss advances.
The senior who just received this diagnosis may also benefit from talking to someone about his or her condition. Depending on the severity of his or her current memory loss, speaking with a psychologist may help the person understand what is happening and get a better sense of why it's necessary to move to memory care or seek help for personal care.
Getting future decisions in place
Dementia cannot be reversed. Once you learn a loved one has this condition, it's important to help him or her handle important affairs. If the person is mentally capable of making reasonable decisions, work together to help him or her establish power of attorney, give necessary people access to bank accounts, stocks, loans and other financial information. Also, work with an elder attorney to create a will that provides instructions on what to do with the senior's estate. If your friend or family member is not mentally sound enough to complete these important tasks, you must work with his or her doctor to prove this fact, and then you can take over planning without the help of the senior. It's important to get these tasks taken care of sooner rather than later to avoid miscommunication and confusion.
Moving to memory care
Seniors who have dementia require special care that they likely won't have access to in their own homes. Consider transitioning the person with dementia into an assisted living memory care community. These senior living communities offer amenities that foster safety and well-being for individuals who have Alzheimer's disease or dementia. They are encouraged to attend activities with their neighbors, and you will have peace of mind knowing your loved one is being properly cared for in an environment much safer than their own homes.