When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia get ready for a whirlwind. The next step in Alzheimer care varies depending on a number of factors. How functional are they? Do they wander? What coping tools are they using? Are they safe? Should they drive? And the list goes on.
If Alsheimer’s suspected at all, a diagnosis is the first step in getting the proper care. Some of the signs of Alzheimer’s disease are repeating themselves, forgetting where they put things, leaving notes all around the house, having a hard time finding the right words and maybe even forgetting who you are.
As the signs start to show up it’s time to make sure everything is in place. The Alzheimer’s Association is a huge help. They can help guide you and they are available 24/7.
Your next step is to make sure you have things in order. If it hasn’t already been done start with a Will, choose an executor, and get Advanced Directives/Power of attorney for health care and for financial affairs. Check with a lawyer that specializes in elder care. The Lawyer can draw up all the legal papers and make sure someone is chosen for the Power of Attorney’s and for the executor of the will should be someone that knows the person’s wishes and can be trusted. A lawyer can help write everything out so that it is in the best interest of the elder person.
Take note of all the behaviors because it will help when going to the doctor. It’s not always easy to get the patient to the doctor. Many professionals talk about therapeutic fibbing to get them there. For example, “I need you to go with me to the doctor” and then talk with the doctor and have the doctor talk to you beforehand so you can come up with a plan for the appointment to go smoothly.
Be prepared with questions and a list of things you and others have noticed. It may be sneaky, but you have to remember that it’s for their own good.
I think about Dementia and what a horrible disease it is. I’m watching a family member whom we’ll call Aunt Shea losing all quality of life. Her husband died about 8 months ago and we’ve discovered Aunt Shea has more than dementia, she has dementia and a fake husband. In some cases the fake husband might be ok, but in this case the fake husband has a girlfriend. Every day when she calls me to tell me her husband left her for another woman I ponder whether or not to tell her that her husband died. If she’s happy why bother telling her. But the problem is she thinks he’s having an affair. So I tell her. Today was the day she knew he had died but wanted to know if the fake husband died too. I had to go with the flow and decided not to say yes or no and said I didn’t know.
The hard part about this is we didn’t know about the dementia because she and her husband hid it so well. His kids helped them too, so Aunt Shea’s side of the family had no idea how bad things were. Unfortunately it is very common for people use coping mechanisms so that people around them don’t really know what’s going on. In this situation the hard part is that means we are grieving both her husband and the woman Aunt Shea used to be.
There are many coping mechanisms that people with dementia use to handle everyday life. Notes around the house, pad with reminders, shuffling papers, double, triple and quadruple checking things. Those are just a few of the things Aunt Shea has used to help her feel like she has some control in her life. She’s a very stubborn woman and won’t admit anything is wrong nor will she see a doctor. As the days go by it’s become clear to me and the rest of the family that she has been hit by the daunting disease.
Now we are working diligently to find a place for her to live where she can enjoy the part of the life she has left. She is calling me 2 – 4 times a day unless she’s with someone else. The calls are usually about her husband leaving her for another woman. Sometimes she has hallucination’s of people coming into the house and has since changed the locks. When she’s here, I spend most of the day reminding her that her husband died. When watching TV, it can’t be a show with a complicated story line because her memory is so short she can’t remember the story line. But a good comedy is great. Laughter is great for anyone, and she loves to laugh.There are lots of lessons to learn about dealing with dementia. It’s amazing! Now that I’m involved with dementia everywhere I look someone is affected by it.
There are so many resources out there. Ask people, search the internet, Call the department of aging and you can even check with the Alzheimer’s Association. They are a great resource and can give you help and direction.