Do you have a loved one recently diagnosed with dementia? Have you noticed your loved one exhibiting signs of memory loss, caused by dementia, by asking the same question repeatedly, forgetting appointments, or even how to get to a home they have lived in for years? Are you the primary caregiver for your loved one with dementia? We know this can be a very stressful time for you, your family and your loved one. We would like to share four tips to help you as you care for your loved one with dementia.
First of all, be aware that it is going to be difficult to witness the memory decline of your loved one. As you work to cope with your own fear and frustration of what you are witnessing, you need to understand he or she may be acutely aware of the memory loss he or she is experiencing. For your loved one this loss may be both frightening and embarrassing. By implementing one or two or all of these caregiving tips, we hope this will help you as you strive to preserve the dignity of your loved one.
1. When your loved one repeatedly asks you the same question, breathe deep and use patience. Remember, you cannot cure your loved one’s dementia, but you can make sure he or she feels secure and that will help you keep calm.
2. Begin to develop strategies to help your loved one to stay safe. For medication safety, use a plastic pill dispenser or an electronic pill dispenser. If you are away, have a set time to call your loved one each day to check in. Be sure that someone your loved one and you trust and feel comfortable with stays with your loved one when you are away. During your talks, remind your loved one of any upcoming appointments. Hang up a calendar or a schedule each week of upcoming appointments and events.
3. Always call upon family and friends to check on your loved one with visits or phone calls. Family and friends can help by taking your loved one to doctor appointments, out to eat or just staying with your loved one at home to watch a movie. As a full time caregiver use these times to give yourself a break to restore yourself so that you can be an even better family caregiver.
4. One of the biggest fears your loved one may have, because of his or her memory loss, may be the loss of control. We highly recommend in this final tip, that you assist your loved one in meeting with a Wisconsin estate planning attorney to get his or her affairs in order before his or her memory declines further. With an estate plan in place your loved one will have a voice in determining a plan of care for when memory problems worsen, be able to choose a trusted family member or friend to make financial and/or healthcare decisions, and have end of life estate planning. A person wanting to create an estate plan must have legal mental capacity to create estate planning documents, including documents that will provide for long-term care, so begin planning as soon as possible.
When you watch a loved one suffer memory loss, you and your family may feel overwhelmed and helpless. You and your family, together with your loved one, can create a step-by-step, smart and loving plan of action that will support the goal of dignity for your loved one.
We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.