When you start to suspect that a loved one may be experiencing the symptoms of a condition marked by cognitive decline, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the first feelings are of helplessness and fear. These are completely normal reactions as it is difficult to deal with the reality of the impending diagnosis and the realisation that life for you and your loved one is going to change forever. Despite dementia and Alzheimer’s disease becoming quite common (approximately one-in-six people over the age of 85 develop some form of the disease), it is quite a misunderstood disease by most people.
Thankfully there is a range of specialist Alzheimer’s support available for families and their loved ones, from diagnosis to full-time care options. Simply being more informed and surrounding yourself and your family with people who have had similar experiences or who have specialist Alzheimer’s support training will help ease the fear that the diagnosis brings. The feeling of helplessness will also fade as you implement treatments and care options that are best suited to your loved one.
Take advantage of as much of this support as possible, as it will help you in every decision you need to make as a family who is responsible for someone with Alzheimer’s. It is important to know that what you are doing is the right thing for your loved one at every stage of the progression of their disease, from diagnosis to full time care.
You may have started picking up signs that your loved one is unwell, and at this stage it may be quite subtle. There are some warning signs that you can look out for such as the following:
- Do they repeat their questions or retell stories within minutes of the first mention?
- Do they find it hard to remember the names of younger family members or recent acquaintances?
- Are they starting to forget things more and more often?
- Are they forgetting things that were in their long-term memory or previously well-known?
- Is it unusual for your loved one to have sudden memory lapses or be forgetful?
Other signs you might pick up on will be major mood shifts or personality changes, however these can also be brought on by other illnesses, which is why it is better to have your loved one diagnosed as soon as possible. Seek professional specialist Alzheimer’s support by seeing a physician, neurologist, or psychiatrist, or all three if possible.
Legal and Financial
The legal and financial implications of your loved one developing Alzheimer’s might have been the last thing on your mind when you received the diagnosis, however they are a very important part of your loved one’s care. It is best to work with a lawyer for specialist Alzheimer’s support to ensure all the legal aspects are taken care of. As your loved one’s condition deteriorates, their ability to make their own decisions will diminish and therefore some structures need to be put in place to ensure their affairs are in order in the case that they are incapacitated.
Your loved one may require assisted decision-making and therefore someone can be appointed to act on his or her behalf through a power of attorney or by way of a curatorship. A living will may also be set up as an advance directive, this allows people with dementia to choose the treatment they wish to receive in their future. It also enables them to give their consent to particular forms of treatment or refuse certain treatments, and choose someone who will make decisions about the care and treatment on their behalf should the need arise.
As mentioned before, going through an Alzheimer’s diagnosis with a loved one is overwhelming and often isolating, you may find that you are at a loss as to what to do next. It is easy to feel like you are alone, however it could not be further from the truth as there are a lot of specialist Alzheimer’s support groups throughout the country as well as online including social networks like Facebook. You will find that sharing your own experiences and learning from others in a similar situation makes you feel less alone, and you will be amazed at what you will learn.
Livewell Villages hosts dementia support groups for just this purpose; these groups provide a place to connect with other families and caregivers who truly understand what you are going through. It is a safe space with zero judgement that will provide you with valuable resources for any stage of dementia. Whether you are looking for more information on caregiving or if you are looking for more emotional support, you will find it in these support group environments.
Here’s what you can expect at a Livewell Dementia Support Group:
- Discuss practical information on caregiving problems and possible solutions
- Talk through challenges and ways of coping
- Share feelings, needs and concerns
- Learn about resources available in your community
Dementia Day and Holiday Care
You may be at the very beginning of full-time caring for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but you may already be picking up on the constant strain both mentally and physically that it puts on your health and well-being. Burnout is a real problem amongst caregivers because they tend to not take time off for themselves to unwind and recuperate, which means they tend to care for long stretches of time without respite. It is important that you try to recognise the signs early enough, or avoid burnout altogether by seeking specialist Alzheimer’s support for day care facilities to lighten the load and take a much needed break.
Unfortunately, many caregivers are not even aware that dementia day care is as an option for their loved one. Dementia day care offers a safe place for people with dementia to socialise, join in activities, and get medical services if they need them. Your loved one can go to daycare during daytime hours and come home for the night or spend a few weeks at a dementia daycare facility whilst you’re on holiday with your family.
Livewell Villages offers dementia care during the day, overnight or prolonged periods when a caregiver needs to take some time off. This enables caregivers to lead more balanced lives, practice self-care, and reduce stress.
Get the support that your family needs
Finding out or suspecting that your loved one is developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be a frightening time, however it is important to note that you are by no means alone. There are trained professionals and facilities like Livewell Villages that specialise in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care that can help you every step of the way.
Find out as much as you can about the disease and the available treatments so that you can make informed decisions with your loved one about their health and care options, and make sure you use all the Alzheimer’s support available out there.