My mom is 88 and has been diagnosed with Dementia. What's next in taking care of her?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 10, 2016
Azk86314 asked...

My mom is 88 and in the first stage of both dementia & Alzhemier's. What is next? Trying to get power of attorney, mental, health. Is there anything else I need to get? I am also looking for assisted living places.

Expert Answers

Maria Basso Lipani writes a popular website on geriatric care topics, where she puts her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to good use answering care planning questions. Maria is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work and is licensed in California and New York.

There are several next steps after an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Many will vary from situation to situation, but the following five are ones that I believe are critical for all family members of those with Alzheimer's:

1) Find support for you, however you define support. Online communities can be excellent, but my strongest suggestion is to get connected at your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. There are a number of excellent workshops and classes but I would recommend starting with the Understanding Dementia For Caregivers meeting. This will enable you to meet others who are experiencing what you are.

2) Make a commitment to take care of yourself. When a loved one is first diagnosed with Alzheimer's, there is often a race to get everything done and the sheer number of visits to doctors, etc. can become overwhelming. Try as best you can not to lose yourself in there. Make your own doctor's appointment, get to your own dentist and eye doctor. The point is that you matter so don't lose sight of that in the midst of all there is to be done for your mom.

3) If you're planning to provide any day-to-day care to your mom, be sure to find information about respite options in your area. If you live at a distance or this isn't possible for any reason, looking into home care and assisted living facilities is also an important step. When you're gathering this information always be sure to ask about whether staff is familiar with how to manage dementia and what specifically their training they get. I would caution you against putting any kind of care in place for your mom unless you're sure that the people who will be caring directly for her know how to best manage people with dementia. This brings me to...

4) Find opportunities in your area to learn about the behaviors you can expect over time as your mother progresses through the stages of Alzheimer's and how to manage them. Here again the Alzheimer's Association can be tremendously useful.

5) Get important papers in order including a health care power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. You'll want to do this as soon as possible and I would strongly suggest consulting with an elder law attorney if at all possible. He/She can help you and your mother to plan for long term care.