Making a Plan for a Loved One Diagnosed with Dementia
In the days and weeks after a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, it’s common to experience a rush of emotions and overwhelming feelings. Uncertainty about the future can weigh you down, but you may even experience a glimmer of relief at finally having an explanation for what you were sensing wasn’t quite right.
You may be relieved to learn most seniors who receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis don’t require significant changes right away. However, chances are good that over time your loved one will need additional support, such as the services provided in a Memory Care community.
One of the unfortunate realities of Alzheimer’s disease is its unpredictability. However, making a plan to accommodate your loved one’s potential future needs will help you regain some steadier footing and smooth your path for what’s next.
Talk with Your Loved One
As scared and apprehensive as you may be feeling, know your loved one is likely carrying a heavy burden as well. Talking through those feelings together lays a foundation for approaching whatever lies ahead as a team. While you may be tempted to put off the conversation, be conscious that Alzheimer’s can affect a person’s ability to think clearly and communicate effectively. Discussing your loved one’s thoughts and desires while they can still articulate them will give you greater confidence in the decisions you ultimately make.
If your loved one with dementia resists the idea of planning ahead, you may find it helpful to engage their healthcare provider as an ally in explaining the advantages of a transition to a Memory Care community at some point in the future.
Take Care of Paperwork
Your loved one can play an essential role in your preparations by helping you gather important documents such as healthcare directives, medical records and other legal papers. This is also a good time to ask about passwords and any other information you may need to help oversee your loved one’s affairs once they’re no longer able.
Make Financial Preparations
Addressing money matters sooner than later can help ensure you’re well prepared to manage your loved one’s finances (or transfer the responsibility to someone else) when the time comes. Among the important papers you collect should be banking and financial information, a will, and details about all your loved one’s sources of income and financial obligations. Ask them to talk you through the money that’s coming in and going out, and match the documentation with what you hear.
Financial planning also means planning for the cost of Memory Care, which your loved one may or may not have anticipated. Fortunately, you may have a number of financial solutions to consider, such as a bridge loan, proceeds from a home sale, veterans benefits or long-term care insurance.
Create a Support System
Acting as a caregiver is a big responsibility, and it’s not one you should take on by yourself unless you absolutely must. Surrounding yourself with a support system will ensure you’re able to be the best support possible to your loved one. That may mean having people you can vent your worries and frustrations to, and it may mean having others who can help you with some of the research and planning so you’re not carrying the load on your own.
Research Care Options
The first step in determining the best fit for your loved one’s long-term care needs is talking with them about what kind of place they might find most welcoming. Armed with that information, you can begin looking for an appropriate Memory Care community that fits your budget and location requirements.
Communities that specialize in dementia care are uniquely qualified to support people at various stages of the condition, from the way physical spaces are designed to the activities and programs offered to maximize residents’ quality of life. In addition, you’ll want to consider factors like security and safety, and policies or procedures that could affect how you or your loved one interacts with the community.
Set Your Plan in Motion
Waiting until your loved one needs urgent support to take action will only exacerbate a difficult situation. Gradually implementing a dementia care plan, working closely with your loved one’s doctor and other members of their care team, will create a milder transition for you and your loved one alike.
Enlisting a partner early in this journey can make a world of difference. At Artis Senior Living’s Memory Care communities, our philosophy of care means we care for people, not the conditions that affect them. That approach makes a world of difference, and so does our commitment to developing personal connections with residents and their families that foster dignity and grace. Guided by The Artis Way, we focus on possibilities, rather than limitations, to engage your loved one in the world around them and help create the best everyday life for them.
More immediately, we welcome the chance to help guide and support family members as they prepare to transition their loved one to Memory Care. Contact us to learn more about how we embrace opportunities for the benefit of each resident now and in the future.