ADVOCACY Receiving news that your loved one has dementia is difficult, but you are not alone. Use this guide to navigate through the challenges ahead of you.
Successful caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s requires tactful planning. AARP provides a variety of tips and tools to help. For even more tips, visit AARP.org/caregiving/care-guides
1. Confirm your loved one’s diagnosis
Getting an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is challenging since many symptoms, including memory loss and difficulty finding words, are natural parts of aging. Fortunately, July 2018 guidelines may lead to quicker, more accurate diagnoses, according to AARP. Studies show that dementia patients who attend a doctor’s visit with a companion are more likely to be aware of their diagnosis and seek treatment.
2. Focus on finances
Alzheimer’s is a costly health condition. Add to that the uncharted territory of navigating another person’s finances, and it gets trickier. If your loved one is still healthy, encourage them to take steps to select a fiduciary who can take over their assets if needed. In the meantime, it may be a good idea to set up a joint account to facilitate bill paying, or work with your local National Association of Area Agencies on Aging to identify a money management program. Naming your loved one as a dependent may help you get more out of your tax refund. Other savings options, such as paid caregiving, are also possible in some parts of the country.
3. Make a plan
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, so it’s critical to plan ahead. Consider flexible long-term care insurance plans to help cover daily extended care services. You may not be able to fulfill all of your loved one’s needs alone, especially with your own obligations to your work and family. If you decide to move your loved one into your home, consider what that might mean for your household. If you opt for a nursing home, be aware of the financial cost involved.
4. Address safety concerns
Alzheimer’s affects motor functions, so at some point, your loved one may need to stop driving. This is a conversation to approach with great sensitivity and honesty. Furthermore, patients of dementia may find themselves more prone to falls, so you may need professional assistance to help modify your home to make it as safe as possible.
5. Care for yourself
Caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Take steps to make sure your own needs are tended to. Get plenty of rest, exercise and eat healthy meals to stay strong for your family.