Early Dementia and Living at Home–Can it Work?

Many families face the difficult but not insurmountable task of providing care for a family member with dementia. While the loved one’s request is often to remain at home, the family may feel that an assisted living community or specialized memory care facility would be a better decision. Moving to a more specialized living environment may be beneficial for some, however, it’s not the only option.

Frequently, the person with dementia is only in the beginning stages and is competent to make decisions pertaining to their future. Financial situations and the rising cost of care can also factor largely in a person’s desire to stay at their home.

Understanding your loved one’s need for independence is very important in preserving their dignity, but it’s equally important to maintain their safety as well as the safety of the people around them. With a little forethought, key issues can be addressed and managed to allow individuals to remain in their homes for as long as possible. While problem areas are unique to each situation, some common issues may include trouble with managing personal finances, difficulty with meal planning and preparation, and concerns with driving safety. These situations can be distressing, but are also very manageable if the correct tools are implemented.

There are a variety of excellent services and resources available to allow one to maintain a level of independence while safely living in the comfort of their own home. Sadly, many people are unaware that these resources exist. For instance, local transit systems encourage and provide a way for one to remain active and to be social even if they are no longer able to drive. Most transit authorities also provide specialized transportation which offers door-to-door transportation to those who are unable to ride fixed route buses due to mental or physical disability. Errand assistance services can help retrieve groceries or medications, or even mail out bills that are due. Senior centers are another great way for seniors to come together with their peers and to enjoy activities, eat a healthy meal, or participate in a variety of wellness classes. Licensed and bonded bookkeeper agencies can become a trusted service to assist your loved one with bill paying, balancing checkbooks, and with making bank deposits.

Structure and routine play an important role in helping a person in the early stages of dementia to be safely independent for as long as possible. Setting a consistent daily schedule with time allotted tasks such as bathing, exercise, household chores, errands, and bedtime will help promote a sense of familiarity and comfort. Keeping the individual involved in their daily home life by following a schedule insures structure and safety for the person. Creating a system that allows the individual to complete various tasks and chores daily is integral to promoting a feeling of independence and self-worth. Calendars are a beneficial way to visually track appointments, and activities, while custom medication sets can insure accuracy with daily routine prescriptions.

As the dementia progresses and one needs more assistance, different approaches will need to be explored. In-home care visits, housekeeping services, and adult day health programs may be options to consider.

Consulting with a Geriatric Care Manager is a great way for a family to make informed decisions regarding their individual and unique situation. Care Managers are professionals who specialize in elder care, and many are affiliated with the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. These individuals function as facilitators, liaisons, and advocates who diligently work to connect clients and their families to services that are available, as well as to promote the health, happiness, and well-being of your loved one.

There are many options to consider when a family is caring for or advising a loved one with dementia. This disease progresses, and with this progression, care needs will increase. Services and resources are available to lessen the stress. The Elder Law Offices of Barry Meyers is a valuable resource to explore. Our attorneys are very experienced in Elder Law and can guide families in the direction that they need to go from a legal stance. Geriatric Care Manager services are available here also; our Care Manager can direct you to pertinent resources, services and provide support, advocacy, and guidance during these challenging times.

Kaaran Anderson, RN
Geriatric Care Manager

DISCLAIMER: The content of this newsletter is: for information purposes only, subject to change by government agencies, should not be relied upon as current, and, does not constitute legal advice. Reading this newsletter does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Barry M. Meyers, Certified Elder Law Attorney
David M. Neubeck, Associate Attorney
Elder Law Offices of Barry M. Meyers, P.S.
www.elderlaw-nw.com