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Dementia Care Conversations: The Importance of Planning Ahead

While no one likes to consider the possibility of life with dementia, dementia care experts agree that early detection by a primary care physician or specialist is highly important. There are several reasons for this, including:

  • An accurate diagnosis – Symptoms of memory loss are sometimes the result of a medical condition other than dementia, such as a vitamin deficiency or depression.
  • Greater benefit from treatment – Early detection offers loved ones with dementia the best chance for benefitting from available care and treatment options, as well as maintaining a level of personal independence longer.​
  • Additional time to make plans – An early diagnosis of dementia also provides loved ones and their families with more time to plan for the future and make important life decisions that will affect everyone involved.

The Value of Planning Ahead

Dementia authorities at the Alzheimer’s Association® say that putting legal, financial, care and end-of-life plans in place is one of the most important steps families can take when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Most importantly, early planning enables loved ones recently diagnosed with dementia the opportunity to participate in important decisions. This allows family and friends to be clear on their wishes and to see that they are carried out.

Says Crystal Yost, PCHA, PCH, Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA“Discussing dementia with a loved one who is exhibiting symptoms or has been recently diagnosed can be awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. However, the sooner these discussions begin, the easier it will be to put plans in place for the future that can be comforting and beneficial to the entire family. Having a formal plan that everyone agrees to can also reduce the stress of an already emotionally challenging situation.”          

Key Components of an Effective Dementia Care Plan

The Alzheimer’s Association® article, “Plan for Your Future,”offers helpful ideas for starting the conversation with your loved one and focusing on the most important features of a dementia care plan, including legal planning, financial planning, creating a care team and end-of-life care.

Legal Planning: The legal aspects of dementia care planning include:

  • Taking inventory of existing legal documents, reviewing them and making necessary updates.
  • Making legal plans for finances and property.
  • Putting plans in place for enacting your future health care and long-term care preferences.
  • Naming another person to make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can.

Legal planning can be complicated, therefore senior care planning experts often recommend the use of a reputable elder law attorney. These legal specialists can guide you through the maze of laws and statutes and help you create essential legal documents such as a durable power of attorney and advance directives for medical care and end-of-life instructions.

  • Financial Planning –​ Because Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that requires more intensive levels of care over time, your financial plans must consider both the short- and long-term care needs of your loved one. To help you get started in an organized way, The Alzheimer’s Association’s Legal and Financial Worksheet provides an excellent resource for taking stock of current assets, anticipated costs of care, resources to help you pay for care and sources of professional assistance such as financial planners and estate planning attorneys.
  • Creating a Care Team – Taking care of a loved one with progressive dementia often requires more time, energy and patience than any one person can provide. Sadly, solo caregivers often suffer from dangerous mental exhaustion and depression that can lead to other serious medical conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. Therefore, it is essential to begin organizing a team of caregivers as soon as possible after a diagnosis is received.

You can start with members of your family, close friends and neighbors, as well as members from your place of worship, volunteer organizations and your family doctor. Also, look into local community resources such as “Meals on Wheels.” 

The Alzheimer’s Association® offers a Local Resource Finder that can provide you with a list of dementia resources within your zip code. In addition, respite care services at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provide busy caregivers needed time off while providing their loved ones with exceptional dementia care.

  • End-of-Life Planning – Discussing plans for the end of a loved one’s lifecan be extremely emotional and difficult for anyone. However, it is also extremely important to be clear on your loved one’s personal wishes, so that you can take proper steps to ensure they are fulfilled.

This conversation should include the type of environment in which your loved would like to receive care, whether or not they want life-sustaining treatment options to be used, and the religious or spiritual beliefs that they would like to have honored. Many of your loved one’s care preferences can be specified in their advance directives, which address medical treatment issues and end-of-life instructions such as Do Not Resuscitate.

Crystal adds, “Difficult as it may be, having a conversation with your loved one about their wishes and preferences for the future can bring a sense of calm and peace to the entire family.”

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on “Dementia Care Conversations: The Importance of Planning Ahead,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again.

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Crystal at 484.386.6323 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.