Dementia Diagnosis: What To Do First As A Caregiver
When someone you know or someone you love is first diagnosed with dementia, this can be a scary time. Oftentimes families do not know what to do in these situations. Dealing with sickness can be unexpected and you may not already have a plan in place. This article will explore the many ways you can plan and prepare if you are just learning that someone close to you has been diagnosed with dementia.
Noticing Signs Of Dementia
As people age, their physical, cognitive and emotional behaviors tend to change. It can be difficult to recognize when these changes are normal versus abnormal. The earlier dementia is recognized in an individual, the better. Below are some resources doctors and physicians may use to help determine if someone is suffering from dementia.
- Obtaining a medical and family history from the individual, including psychiatric history and history of cognitive and behavioral changes.
- Asking a family member to provide input about changes in thinking skills and behavior.
- Conducting cognitive tests and physical and neurologic examinations.
- Having the individual undergo blood tests and brain imaging to rule out other potential causes of dementia symptoms, such as a tumor or certain vitamin deficiencies.
- In some circumstances, using brain imaging tools to find out if the individual has high levels of beta-amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s; normal levels would suggest Alzheimer’s is not the cause of dementia.
Steps To Take After Dementia Diagnosis
After the person has been diagnosed, there are several things you need to take care of. Your life and the patient’s life is going to drastically change over time. These next steps will help you and the person you care for transition over time.
- Determine treatment options
- Plan out living conditions
- Coordinate care for the diagnosed individual
- Take an active role in meaningful activities
- Set aside time to connect with others who may be in your position
- Educate yourself on the disease
- Create a plan for the future (care, finances, etc.)
There are over 5.8 million Americans living with dementia. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is projected to reach 7.1 million. You are not alone in your search for answers. Orchard at Brookhaven is qualified and ready to help you find solutions in your time of crisis. When you are ready for help taking care of your loved one, please contact us.