If you think a loved one has dementia
Firstly don’t panic if you think a loved one has dementia! It’s important to take appropriate steps to ensure their well-being and seek professional medical advice. There are several things you should think about doing.
The first step if you think a loved one has dementia is to encourage a medical evaluation. This is important. Initially chat with your loved one about your concerns and encourage them to visit their GP. We all know how difficult it is to get a GP appointment at present, and your loved one may feel they are wasting the Doctors’ time.
Emphasise to them the importance of early detection and diagnosis. Both are crucial in managing dementia effectively. The GP can conduct an initial assessment and if necessary refer them to a specialist such as a neurologist or geriatrician if they are an older person.
Keep an eye on symptoms and record them. Take note of any specific symptoms or changes in behaviour, memory, or cognitive abilities that you have noticed. This information will be helpful for medical professionals during the evaluation process.
Be supportive and patient. It’s natural to feel a little nervous when seeking a diagnosis. Offer them emotional support, and be patient and compassionate throughout the journey. Understandably this may sound easier than it is in effect.
It is useful to learn about dementia. Read about the different types, their symptoms, and the available treatment options. The more informed you are, the better you can support your loved one.
Assist your loved one with daily tasks. Depending on the severity of their symptoms, your loved one may need help with everyday activities. Offer your assistance with tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and managing medications.
Ensure that their living environment is safe and free from hazards. Install safety features if needed, such as grab bars, handrails, and nonslip mats.
Legal and money matters
Legal and financial planning. Encourage your loved one to make or update their legal documents, such as a will, power of attorney, and advance healthcare directives, while they are still capable of making decisions.
Seek support for yourself. Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally and physically challenging. Don’t hesitate to seek help from family, friends, or support groups for caregivers.
Engage in cognitive activities. Encourage your loved one to participate in activities that stimulate their mind, such as puzzles, games, reading, or hobbies they enjoy.
Follow medical advice. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, work closely with the medical team to develop a care plan tailored to your loved one’s personal needs. It is important to remember, a proper diagnosis and professional guidance are essential for managing dementia effectively. It’s crucial to be proactive in seeking help and support to ensure the best possible care for your loved one.