It begins with a few forgotten appointments, then you can’t remember if you had lunch or not and soon you can’t find your way back home. When your loved begins to lose their memory, it can be a struggle for the entire family. The person who has been the head of the family could soon fade from the person they once were, leaving their loved ones to wonder what will come next.
What should you do next? It’s a tough question that often puts families in a tough situation without anything written down regarding their loved one’s final wishes.
Dementia diagnoses continues to rise and the need to address this head-on is important. Here are some critical questions to ask:
What are the signs of dementia? Surprisingly, forgetting names of people is not a sign of dementia. Mixing up names of objects, however, is. For a more complete list of signs, check the Alzheimer's Association's website.
Does my loved one have dementia? Schedule a visit with their doctor and voice your concerns. Once you're familiar with the early signs, consider your loved one's behaviors. While some might appear obvious, but it's surprisingly easy for people to hide their confusion by telling a story instead of answering your questions.
- What do they want for their future? Upon a diagnosis of dementia, planning is crucial. Try to write down everything while your loved one is still able to make their wishes known. Seeking resources in elder law is important.
- What's their life story? Try making a video diary or journalling. Your loved one has wonderful stories that are worth preserving, and it helps a person with dementia stay cognizant if they’re asked to retell their personal history. This also helps your loved one feel valued at a time when being ignored is one of the biggest fears associated with a diagnosis of dementia.
We do all these things when patients have a terminal illness like cancer. We know to help them plan for the future and make them comfortable in the present. But we don't recognize dementia as a disease, so we don't approach people in the same way. It's time for a change. Start talking about dementia and do everything we can to give our loved ones the most comfortable and peaceful life we can.