Once you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of dementia, you are bound to have a lot of questions about what to expect. Here are a few of the most common ones to help get you started on the road to understanding dementia.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a blanket term for various types of medical conditions which impair memory and the ability to think and reason.
Is All Memory Loss Dementia?
No. There are many other reasons why a person might find their memory altered, including stress, lack of sleep, and certain medications.
Is All Dementia Alzheimer’s?
No. Alzheimer’s is one particular form of dementia, the most severe. There are several other types, each with their own signs and symptoms. Knowing which type of dementia you have can help you get the right treatment.
Can an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Be Confirmed 100% While a Person Is Alive?
No. A number of diagnostic tests can point to whether or not a person has Alzheimer’s, but otherwise, doctors can only get a definitive diagnosis through an autopsy and examination of the brain tissue.
What Are the Next Steps after Diagnosis?
There are several next steps. The first is to learn all you can about your particular type of dementia. The second step is to tell those in your life who need to know and will support you in this new phase of your life.
Your third step is to find out what treatments your doctor recommends, and to follow through regularly. Next, ask them what support is available for you and your family, especially if you have Alzheimer’s. You might find local support groups, an adult day care center, and more.
The next step is to start planning for the future now, so your wishes will be followed. There are a number of issues to consider:
- Your care, and in particular, who will make healthcare decisions if you are not able to. A living will and a lasting power of attorney can help.
- Finances – who will administer your finances if you are not able to? Your will can also help you state who you would like to leave certain bequests to when you pass away.
- Dependents – if you have anyone dependent upon you, such as a child or grandchild, or pets, provision would need to be made for them. In addition, you might decide to appoint a guardian for yourself to ensure continuity of care.
To learn more about the important paperwork to have in place, visit:
What Treatments Are Available for Dementia?
This depends on the type of dementia you have been diagnosed with. In most cases, it will involve medication to treat the troublesome symptoms, and perhaps lifestyle changes such as adding exercise to your daily routine, which has been shown to slow cognitive decline even in people with Alzheimer’s.
Each medication will have varying degrees of effectiveness as well as certain side effects, so it is important to discuss all of your options with your doctor/s as you work out a treatment plan.
What Strategies Can Help Me Cope with Memory Loss?
There are several strategies that can help:
- Labeling cupboard doors with written labels, sticky notes, or pictures can help in the kitchen. Use a similar system for your clothing drawers.
- Use a paper diary so you can write down all of your appointments.
- Get a special pill carrier for all your medications. One type allows you to lay out your medicine for a week at a time, with four compartments in each daily pill box. The small pill box can be removed from the larger unit and taken with you anywhere. If you are not sure you have taken your medicine, just look at the box compartments.
- Have routines for taking off clothes and putting them in the laundry, lists for shopping at the supermarket, and so on.
Understanding more about a dementia diagnosis can make it easier to deal with, whether it’s for you or a loved one. Our staff at Your Home Team Care is Trained in Dementia Care and ready to help you and your loved one get through the time ahead. Please feel free to give us a call at (865) 332-5000 to speak to our trained staff about the dementia care we offer, or visit us at www.yourhometeamcare.com to check out our services. We are the group of choice for ALS & Dementia Training in Knoxville Tennessee.