How to Talk to your Loved one who may Have Dementia
Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Dementia
A certain amount of temporarily forgetting things is sometimes just a normal part of aging, especially if the senior is stressed out with too much on his/her plate. However, if things progress to the point where the memory loss increases and it is more disruptive and noticeable to family members and friends, then it may be time to sit down with your loved one and discuss the issues, offer help and support and suggest possible treatment options. The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and how you can tell the difference between them and normal aging.
The Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month 2018 Survey
However, a survey in May, 2018, by the Alzheimer’s Association showed that most Americans do not want to initiate such a conversation with a loved one. The results were as follows:
The majority, 76% did not want to hurt the feelings of their loved one and said they would not initiate such a conversation.
The next largest group 69% did not want to risk ruining their relationship.
A worrying amount 38% said they would not talk to their loved one until his/her condition got worse.
Last, but not least, 29% said they would never talk at all to their loved one in spite of their concerns.
Six Tips to Approach a Loved One Regarding Possibility of Dementia
In response to the results of this survey, the Alzheimer’s Association has a list of six tips to help family members find the right way to talk to their loved one about their concerns:
- Have the conversation as soon and as early as possible.
- Decide who would be the best one to start this conversation.
- Rehearse ahead of time how to start this conversation.
- Offer love and support
- Expect to find gaps on self-awareness
- Understand that the conversation may not go the way it was planned
Benefits of an Early Diagnosis
Many individuals with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease prefer to have these kinds of conversations early on, so they can make proper plans for the future, while they are still capable of making decisions. They also claim that an early diagnosis is very beneficial.
Besides the emotional, social and medical benefits of an early diagnosis, there are also financial benefits both for the senior and their loved ones.
Accurate Medical Diagnosis
An accurate medical diagnosis is a must, as there are other disease conditions that mimic Alzheimer’s, but are treatable, whereas Alzheimer’s so far is incurable. This form of dementia that can be treated and reversed is called Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (iNPH). To learn more about this treatable dementia see our blog post on iNPH from April 11, 2018. Make sure you really do have an accurate diagnosis and if you want to really be certain go for a second opinion.
One you have an accurate positive diagnosis you can explore any new treatment breakthroughs that may come along. You may also participate in human clinical trials of new drugs that may be beneficial to you. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has a list of clinical trials you can join to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
You can make lifestyle changes that have been shown to be beneficial like following a diet high in fish and fresh fruits and vegetables and extra virgin olive oil, getting more physical exercise, giving up smoking and drinking, etc.
Some research has shown that eating beets and extra virgin olive oil might help. See our blog “How to Live Well with Dementia” from April 3, 2018. Another study showed that a certain form of Vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside (NR) helped to restore memory loss in mice that had been generated to have Alzheimer’s. To read more about Vitamin B3 and Alzheimer’s in mice, please see our blog from February 28, 2018.
Emotional and Social Benefits
You may make plans to travel or write your memoirs or visit family and friends, while you are still able to do these things. Also, there are many educational and support groups you can join.
Planning for the Future
You will be able to make legal, financial and end-of-life decisions while you are still capable of doing this. You will be able to investigate home care, assisted living arrangements, short or long-term care facilities that you may need in the future, but you can let family members know the route you want to take, while you are still capable of conveying your choices.
If the time comes to look for a long-term skilled nursing care solution, then you should choose a care facility that has a memory care unit like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY.
If your loved one is showing more of the 10 signs that may be dementia, then it may be time to sit down and talk about your concerns and together make care plans for the future.
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