In my last post [The #1 Key To Providing Amazingly Awesome Care for A Person Living with Dementia], I mentioned the “top 10” questions/issues that care partners are urged to focus on–and that I would provide my answers this week.

Like anything else I say, it’s based on having worked with over 900 people living with dementia and their families, as well as experiences in my own family. But still…just my opinion. The “right” answer always depends on your particular situation.

Q: What stage are they in?

A: Know the answer to this question and you’ll have realistic expectations about what your parent is capable of–and be able to plan for the future. I’ve witnessed countless a-ha moments (“So that’s why ‘x’ is happening!”) when reviewing assessment findings with families.

 

Q: Who’s the best doctor?

A: Definitely ask around within your circle for specific names, but also keep this in mind: the best doctor is the one who listens to what you have to say, explains what you don’t understand, and is on the same page as you with the treatment plan! The doctor works for your parent/you and should act like it.

 

Q: When’s the right time for placement?

A: This is the answer nobody likes, but it’s still the truth: It depends. If you’ve decided you want to take care of your parent in your home for the rest of her life, that’s a perfectly legit choice. You just need to have a plan in place to support that choice (see Respite Care below).

Many families tell me they want to care for their loved one at home “as long as possible.”  In that case, you need to be clear on what your deal breakers are: Is it incontinence? Falls? Wandering? Transferring? Whatever it is, have a plan in place to support that choice (see next question).

For some families, the person living with dementia is living independently in his own home until that is no longer viable for the reasons listed above. In that case, safety is the #1 concern. Be clear with yourself in advance if the next move is to your house or to a memory care community, and plan accordingly (see next question).

 

Q: Where’s the right place for placement?

A: Here again, it depends. You may love a cruise ship atmosphere that your ranching family parent would hate. Blessedly, you don’t have to figure this out for yourself. You’ll save yourself time and stress (and endless phone calls from community sales reps) by working with a placement professional. It’s free, and it’s one of the biggest favors you’ll ever do for yourself–trust me.

 

Q: Who’s best to get “affairs” in order: attorney, financial planner, insurance agent?

A: Start with an elder law attorney, and take your marching orders from her; she’ll tell you at what step to get the financial planner and insurance agent involved. Following this sequence will typically save you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars.

Please note: an elder law attorney is NOT the same as an estate planning attorney. You want the specialist for what you’re dealing with now, and that’s an elder law attorney.

 

In the interest of respecting your time, I’ll tackle the next five issues (respite care; advance care planning; self-care; medication management; and basics of everyday care) in my next post.

Please add your voice to the conversation. I invite you to share your experience, thoughts, questions in the comments below.

Christy Turner is the founder of DementiaSherpa.com (CTC Dementia Care Management) and has enjoyed the privilege of working with over 1,045 people living with dementia and their families. Follow on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Content varies daily across platforms.