As people age, their risk for developing dementia increases.
Dementia is a medical condition that a number of underlying diseases can cause.
Many Indianapolis residents are familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, but there are other conditions that also cause dementia. Some of these underlying conditions are treatable. However, others are not.
In the latter case, dementia slowly gets worse. Medical treatment can only slow the progress of the condition. Treatment will not cure the problem.
Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, communication issues and problems with other tasks that require judgment, planning and the like.
A person may also start having difficulty with coordination and get confused easily. They may, over time, start to hallucinate or have paranoid thoughts and develop emotional or mental health problems.
While age and genetics are also risk factors, people can reduce their risk of developing dementia with a proper diet and other healthy habits.
In its later stages, dementia can make it impossible for a person to make decisions on their own. They may need help with even basic living tasks. They will need someone to protect their interests and provide for their care.
How can I help someone in the early stage of dementia?
Family members should remember that a diagnosis of dementia does not automatically make their loved one helpless. They may be able to do many things for themselves in the early stages of their condition.
Importantly, they may be legally able to sign critical financial and legal documents and create an estate plan.
The first thing family members should do is of course provide the proper emotional and physical support for their loved one.
What this support consists of will look different for different families. However, all Indiana families should remember that someone who has dementia will also need appropriate legal support and protection.
For example, if an Indianapolis family has a loved one with dementia in its early stages, they should think carefully about encouraging them to plan for their long-term care.
As dementia progresses, assisted living, and, eventually, nursing home care will likely be necessary. These are both expensive services, but government aid and other funding may be available with the right planning.
Likewise, someone who has recently received a diagnosis will want to get advanced directives, like a durable power of attorney and proper medical directives, in place.
This way, when the time comes, a trusted loved one has the authority to manage the person’s finances and medical care.