As your loved one’s dementia progresses and their symptoms and behaviors change, working with a healthcare provider to develop the right care plan is necessary. Although there is no cure for this life-limiting disease, many treatments and plans exist to delay or mitigate the severity of symptoms in some people.
To create a dementia care plan, you must first understand your loved one’s needs to align them with the right services.
Center Your Loved One’s Needs
Dementia is not uncommon among older adults, with more than 10 million new cases of dementia occurring each year worldwide. However, finding out that the disease is a reality for your family is difficult news. Take as much time as you and your loved one need to digest the information.
After you have spent time getting used to this new reality, speak in detail about your loved one’s values and desires, hopes and fears, and how they envision their life when they need help.
Start by asking them the following questions (or any others necessary for the situation):
- What are their fears and hopes?
- Is their goal to live the longest life possible?
- Are comfort and safety most important to them?
- Is being close to friends and family at the top of their list?
- What is important to them when they can no longer assert their needs? Music? Time outside? A hand to hold?
Developing clear answers to these questions can bring you closer to your loved one and help you both feel confident as you consider a care plan for the near and far future.
Identify a Dementia Care Plan
Start by exploring all available options, including at-home care and Adult Day services. In a highly progressed case of dementia, you should consider residential long-term or hospice care.
You can learn about these plans by doing online research, speaking with other people who have relatives with dementia, or — if your loved one is already receiving care — consulting with their care team.
From there, apply your loved one’s answers to the questions above to identify a plan that fits their needs and desires. Remember to do this together, not for your loved one, so they can receive the most appropriate care for their needs.
Consider these services and living options as you develop your dementia care plan:
1. Adult Day Services
Adult Day Services provide assistance and enriching programming in a safe environment during the week while caregivers are at work or tending to obligations. Usually, this is recommended for people in earlier stages of dementia as a starting point. However, anyone can continue attending Adult Day throughout the progression of dementia as long as transportation and support from caregivers remain reliable.
2. Home Care
Home care services can make it easier for your loved one to live at home through assistance with healthcare services — such as medication management or personal care — and non-healthcare services, such as housekeeping and meal preparation. This service can layer on top of family caregiving to reduce caregiver burnout and provide additional peace of mind.
3. Memory Support
If you and your loved one decide it’s time to move into a community, a memory support neighborhood provides a secure, homelike environment and a team that is educated and certified in dementia care, helping residents feel connected and comfortable.
Hospice is end-of-life care that can provide peace of mind and comfort. Caregivers ease the burden of medical needs so families can focus on what’s important at this time: expressing feelings, showing love, and making memories.
Talk About Finances
As early as possible, meet with your lawyer and financial planner. Doing this early ensures that your loved one’s needs and values are considered as you develop a plan to pay for their future care and distribute assets after they have passed.
With your financial planner, you can discuss how to pay for senior living. And with your lawyer, you can create an estate plan that is as detailed or simple as needed. For instance, something as simple as listing a beneficiary on your checking account could mean the difference between months of probate (i.e., the distribution of a deceased person’s will) and money being immediately transferred to beneficiaries.
You’ll also want to establish a power of attorney with your lawyer. This written document authorizes an individual to represent or act on behalf of someone after they can no longer make their own decisions.
Work With WesleyLife to Develop a Care Plan for Dementia
At WesleyLife, we provide a support system that allows your loved one to move from one level of care to another as it becomes necessary.
As you develop a dementia care plan — whether it’s Adult Day for help during the day or hospice care for end-of-life services — your loved one will be supported by caregivers who understand the difficulty of this period of life and lead with empathy.
To start, look at how our Adult Day Services can help your family member maintain their independence in a safe environment and provide a break from caregiving.