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Your Loved One Has Alzheimer’s, Now What?

Posted by Jennifer on April 2, 2013

If a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it is difficult to know what to do next. Planning for the future while dealing with emotions can be overwhelming, but being organised can be a big help in reducing the stress on your family. There are a few steps that every family should take together to begin preparing for their road with Alzheimer’s.

Support:

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s will likely cause a range of emotions, and it is important to have someone to talk to. If you will be a caregiver for your loved one, it will be essential to have a support circle of friends and family to assist you. Get educated on what to expect on the road ahead.

Planning:

Important decisions need to be made, including who will be the primary caregiver, how will caregiving be paid for, at what point will your loved one move to an assisted living facility, etc. If your loved one is still lucid enough, they should be included in the planning process. Meeting with an elder law attorney to ensure their wishes are recorded is sometimes suggested.

Who will make decisions for healthcare and finances needs to be determined. Someone may need to acquire power of attorney. This stage of preparation is best done as soon as possible, to ensure that the wishes of your elderly loved one are acted upon.

Caregiving:

Who will provide care? Is there someone in your family capable and willing to be the primary caregiver? Is your loved one’s house a suitable place to live, or is an assisted living facility more practicable? Research local caregiving businesses, and call them to find out what they offer. Different situations work for each family, and most caregiving companies offer flexible care that is tailored to your specific situation. If someone in the family will be the primary caregiver, research and decide on respite care options, to prevent burnout. If your loved one will stay at home, a decision needs to be made for at what point they can no longer receive the healthcare required at home and they need to be admitted to a full-time facility.

Making these decisions alone can feel like a huge responsibility, so try to include your whole family. Depending on the current stage of your loved one’s dementia, you may have to act on what you believe their wishes to be. If you are unsure where to go next, contacting a professional caregiver to hear options, and an elder law attorney will provide some clarity. Remember that dementia is an evolving condition, and you will need to be prepared for changes ahead.

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