Dementia and Decision Making

The largest generation in the history of our country is beginning to enter into “senior” status. The elder care issues that we will soon face can seem burdensome both financially and emotionally. People are particularly fearful of succumbing to some type of dementia, particularly since there are no treatments and no cures for Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 5.3 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s, and by the year 2050 it is projected that between 11-16 million Americans will become afflicted with dementia.

It is an uncomfortable prognosis for our senior population to consider. As Geriatric Care Managers, we work with people who in many instances have found themselves in a “crisis mode.” Dementia has seemingly snuck up on them and their family members, and they are leery of how to proceed, particularly if they live out of the area.

If someone you know has started to show signs of dementia, it may be particularly difficult to talk about and plan for long-term care. Dementia can cause a person to misinterpret what is being said to them. Those suffering from dementia are often paranoid, depressed and confused. Though what you may be discussing may seem perfectly reasonable, to them it may feel like a threat to their autonomy. Though for anyone who may be discussing long-term care with a parent may run into resistance due to loss of independence, dementia can make it all the worse. Decision-making can become an arduous task, and you may become frustrated particularly if your loved one becomes combative.

Of course, if your loved one is in imminent danger to self or others, seek professional assistance immediately. Hire a Geriatric Care Manager to not only coordinate care, but also to be that objective voice who is well informed of all choices and services available in the area. Geriatric Care Managers can also be very valuable when figuring out insurance requirements and financial resources that may be utilized to pay for whatever care is determined appropriate.

For all involved, it is the safety and happiness of our senior family members that are paramount. Dementia makes an already difficult conversation all the more stressful. Professional intervention and advice can significantly reduce the amount of “field work” required to determine the how and where of care, leaving you to focus on the person that you love.

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