What I learned as the adult child that lived near my parents and spent time with them was that what we noticed for years were really early signs of dementia in my mom. She would say things that made me realize she was having trouble with her memory but when we tried to look into it further, she would pass on all options. Instead, she said we needed to focus on my dad who was the problem. Turned out, they both ended up being diagnosed with moderate stages of their dementia’s more than ten years after my husband and I noticed changes in my mom.
Getting a diagnosis early gives the individual diagnosed control on how they will live their life when they can no longer convey what is important to them. I understand that it is easier to avoid hearing bad news. However, I have seen many successful outcomes when someone is diagnosed, and they have time to plan and everyone is clear on what the individual wants. I contrast this to what my experience. I hoped I was choosing the right path for my parents because eventually, I had to make all the hard choices for them.
I have a client who went through the SHARE program with his adult daughter. Mom had passed away a few years prior and dad was living alone in his home. A counselor walked dad and his daughter through the program and gave them time and space to discuss future choices they might have to make. Five years later, my client is living well in his home with his two cats, and now has a team around him to support his daily life. Once he was diagnosed, it helped him and his daughter have a way to plan and build shared goals and make sure the tools and resources were in place.
What I do know (because I manage the bill pay) is that staying in his home with supports that provide engagement, meals, and manage his health care needs is less expensive than if he was moved into a care community. He also would not have been able to have his cats move with him which was very important to him. His cognition is declining, but he is living the life he wanted safely.
I hope the benefits of getting diagnosed to your loved one and all of those that will help care for them will be evident and useful. WISHED.
SHARE for Dementia is an evidence-based care-planning program that empowers adults with early-stage dementia and their families to get the most out of today while planning for tomorrow.