If a loved one is showing signs of memory loss or dementia, you likely have some challenging but necessary conversations ahead. While it may be tempting to avoid the issue, initiating these conversations will help ensure your loved one gets the support they need. Here are some of the topics that can be most difficult to broach, along with tips for getting a discussion started:

Consulting a Doctor

Getting a proper diagnosis is one of the first steps in dementia care. Once the reason for your loved one’s confusion or memory loss is properly identified, they may have access to medications that can treat symptoms. You’ll also be able to start planning for their care. But first, your loved one needs to agree to see a doctor. Here are ways to encourage them to take this important step:

The Dangers of Driving

The keys to the car can be a symbol of freedom and independence, and most of us would be loath to give them up. Unfortunately, dementia erodes many of the abilities required to drive safely—including mental focus, quick decision-making and the ability to follow logical steps. If you’re finding evidence that your loved one isn’t safe behind the wheel—scratches or dents on the car, for example—you’ll need to address the problem for their own well-being and that of others. These approaches can help your loved one accept that it’s time to give up their keys:

Making Financial and Legal Plans

As dementia progresses, your parent will be unable to handle their finances or make sound decisions regarding their healthcare and estate plan. That’s why it’s important to make sure the proper plans are in place. If your parent doesn’t have a will, advance directive, power of attorney, or other important documents already, encourage them to meet with an attorney. To help the conversation go smoothly:

Living Arrangements

There will likely come a time when your parent won’t be safe without round-the-clock supervision and care. For most families, this means their loved one will eventually need to move to Memory Care, where specially trained staff, dementia-friendly activities and 24/7 supervision are available. Talking about this while your parent is in the early stages of dementia gives them an opportunity to take a role in the decision-making process. The following steps can help you approach the discussion in a productive, compassionate way: