When your loved one receives a diagnosis of dementia of any kind, life changes. While the disease itself will not progress to its latest stages immediately, your mind is probably racing. How will you care for your mother or father? What will he or she need as the condition advances? These questions are normal, and their answers will vary depending on your parent’s circumstances. There are a few ways to begin to address long-term dementia care planning as soon as your parent is diagnosed, each of which we’ll review below.
“When your parent is diagnosed with dementia, life changes.”
If your mother or father is in the early stages of dementia, get started on dementia care planning and involve them in the decision-making process as much as you can. This will ensure care later in life conforms to their wishes. It can also give you considerable peace of mind to know your parent understands the eventual need for memory care in an assisted living community – many adult children of people living with dementia are afraid they are abandoning their parents, but having a conversation about residential care in advance can help alleviate these feelings.
While your parent is able to do so, it is also ideal to set up powers of attorney for financial and health care matters. It will be vital to be able to work with the person managing your parent’s finances in order to pay for assisted living, and it will also be necessary to make decisions about your parent’s care when they can no longer do so. If your parent is able to choose who makes these decisions, everything will proceed more smoothly. It is also an ideal time to set up a release of medical information so you can be as involved as possible in your parent’s care.
It may be the case that you are in the process of dementia care planning for a parent who can no longer provide input on his or her wishes. This is very difficult, both practically and emotionally, and it’s important for you to have support throughout this process. As you begin to investigate care options like assisted living communities, focus on finding a home with staff members who are both compassionate and informative – these are the people you would like to have watching over your parent, as well as helping you make hard choices.
Speaking to your parent’s doctor can also be helpful at this stage of the planning process. Understanding how their dementia is likely to progress is important, as is having an idea of exactly what their care needs will look like as the disease progresses. While many people attempt to care for parents with dementia in the home for as long as possible, it is a huge commitment – and your parent will eventually need round-the-clock care. This means the time to begin investigating memory care communities is now, as it is also the time to make financial and legal preparations.
Resources for care planning
As you plan dementia care for your parent, know there is help available to you. You will want to consult with a lawyer as you establish power of attorney, conservatorship or any other necessary arrangements. Working with someone well-versed in elder law can take a huge weight off your shoulders. You may also wish to talk to a financial planner with experience in making arrangements for long-term care. Finally, other children of people living with dementia who have gone through similar experiences can be great resources, as can professionals at the assisted living communities you are considering.
With the help of professionals and the support of your family and friends, planning for your parent’s long-term dementia care is possible.