Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

 

Accepting that our parents and grandparents are no longer as astute as they once were is a painful process. However, no matter how difficult this may be, it is our responsibility as their children and grandchildren to take care of them as they grow older. It is also our responsibility to protect their legal interests.

Some seniors are still in perfect health but others are not so lucky. In fact, one in eight people over 65 have dementia. According to a 2014 estimate, approximately 5.2 million people in America live with Alzheimer’s disease. This cognitive impairment affects memory and communication and it can be a painful ordeal for those who are taking care of parents or grandparents with this condition.

The Best Care Possible

For individuals with relatives who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the best care possible is desired. Obtaining nursing home information and learning the rights of your parents and grandparents is a must. Nursing home abuse is rampant and it is something that every family should know more about before sending an elderly relative into the unknown.

Some seniors experience symptoms such as malnutrition, bed sores, pressure ulcers, bruising, hip fractures, physical and sexual abuse, dehydration, and general abuse while living in a nursing facility. This is something that every son or daughter should keep in mind since a third of families in America have an elderly relative who had to endure this kind of abuse. As one can imagine, elderly Americans who have dementia are some of the most vulnerable residents in nursing homes.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is basically a set of symptoms that happen due to disease or injury. It is typically caused by brain damage, Hungtington’s disease, or stroke.

Symptoms such as subtle short-term memory changes i.e. forgetting what they ate for breakfast, difficulty in understanding conversations or not knowing the right word to use, and disinterest in hobbies and activities they used to love are some of the early signs of the condition. Those with dementia also have difficulty accomplishing tasks that require planning and concentration. Some even have periods of mental confusion.

It must be noted that the symptoms mentioned above usually show up before an official diagnosis. However, experts remind family members not to jump to conclusions until a doctor has seen the patient. If you suspect that your parent or grandparent is showing early signs of dementia, it is best to visit a physician immediately. A General Practitioner (GP) with an expertise in memory problems will be able to rule out other possible conditions that can cause the problems mentioned above.

Talking to a Loved One with Signs of Dementia

Talking to your parent or grandparent who might have a dementia diagnosis can be challenging. This is because most people who have this condition will either be confused or in denial of what is going on.

Experts note that you can talk to your elderly family member about the symptoms and whether he or she have noticed it.

If the diagnosis is dementia, make sure that you tell your parent that knowing what it is will help you and the whole family in taking the right steps towards managing the symptoms.

Legal Planning

Early diagnosis can help you and your parent or grandparent prepare for the future. Legal planning for those with Alzheimer’s can be empowering because this means that the one diagnosed with the condition knows that his or her wishes will be met. Legal planning involves power of attorney for healthcare, durable power of attorney for properties and finances, among other legal concerns.

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