Your parent has received a serious diagnosis—Alzheimer’s disease or another cognitive impairment that will be ultimately debilitating. Now what? Arm yourself with information to know what steps to take next. Ask your parent’s physician these key questions about memory care conditions.
What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
Dementia isn’t a disease; it’s a set of symptoms caused by a disease. Alzheimer’s is one of these diseases, and it causes 60–80 percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There are many other cognitive impairments, such as vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. Your parent’s exact diagnosis will influence her behavior, her prognosis, and how she is medicated.
Who will handle her legal and financial affairs, and how? There will come a point when your mother can no longer handle her financial matters. As soon as possible, talk with her and establish a power of attorney.
What stage is it? Your mother’s Alzheimer’s prognosis depends on the stage she’s in. There are typically three stages of dementia. During stage one, you may notice small signs—or none at all. The second stage is when most of the big transitions happen for families—often involving naming a power of attorney and moving your parent into a senior living community that provides memory care. In the third, or final, stage of dementia, safety and nourishment are big concerns. People with dementia also are at a greater risk of falling. Your mother will require full-time treatment and assistance as her illness progresses.
What type of assisted care does she need? If you’re considering an assisted living setting for your parent, look for structured memory care programs in a senior living facility. These programs offer a variety of activities that your mother can enjoy at each stage of her illness, incorporating such things as her favorite foods, hobbies, or pastimes. Residences should provide warm, home-like living environments along with physical safeguards for your parent.
Your mother’s doctor can help you determine the level of care she needs, whether that’s simple services, such as meal delivery and custodial care; in-home care; or a memory care program, such as the Heartfelt CONNECTIONS Memory Care Program® offered by Life Care Services.