Dementia and the Diagnosis

Dementia and the Diagnosis

The thing I am about to say is not going to be politically correct. It may seem harsh, but it is an absolute truth that every caregiver needs to hear and understand.

We have all heard the expression, “No one here gets out alive.” In the past 100-year history of dementia, no one has ever gotten through the stages of dementia alive.

As caregivers – as much as we read, research, donate or participate – in reality, eventually our loved ones are going to pass. And when the diagnosis is made, the writing is on the wall. It’s when we choose to face and accept this fact, that we will be able to break through and alter the course of dementia.

Like you, I read all the articles in newspapers, journals, and web sites on how to slow down, stop or reverse dementia. And I hate to burst your caregiver bubble, but the majority of them are written to sell newspapers, products, or research programs. Shocking, instilling fear, and giving false hope are just calls to action to sell something to those in times of desperation.

When a loved one is going through stages of dementia, it’s difficult not to hold out hope. But as caregivers, we spend valuable time chasing rainbows. To date, there is no pill, vitamin, diet, exercise program, memory puzzle or game that is going to reverse or slow down dementia. Trust me when I say, that when a cure is found – we will all find out about it.

Truthfully, no one knows what causes Alzheimer’s or dementia, or how to stop it or reverse it. No neurologist, scientist, researcher or the pharmaceutical company – no one. Whether you like what I have to say or not, it’s important you accept it.

No matter what you’d like to think, once thought, or continue to believe, it’s important you know that as a caregiver, dealing with a loved one in the stages of dementia, your input is going to be either helpful or detrimental. The person you’re caring for depends on you. There comes a time when caregivers learn to accept this fact, and are able to move on to better care for their loved ones.

As your coach, I will guide you through and keep you informed on important medical discoveries and help you determine what is a right fit for you and your loved one. Second, third, and fourth opinions are often an option for caregivers and families dealing with the stages of dementia. However, putting your loved one through these appointments and tests can often be more detrimental than beneficial.

But don’t give up hope.

As a caregiver you will need to keep in mind that stages of dementia is just a loose term to help you describe the mental and physical state that your loved one is in. It’s not set in stone and as a caregiver you still have the power to make this situation better. Know that behavioral and environmental changes will have a positive impact on both of your lives.

As caregivers, we have become reliant on medication to solve problems. But often times, medications solve one problem while causing a new one. And so, we call the doctor to get another medication to solve the new problem that the previously prescribed medication caused. It’s a vicious cycle.

It’s important to accept at some point that you are taking care of your loved one because of a brain changing disorder. Dementia is an irreversible progressive brain disorder. The person that you care for will decline over time, regardless of the medications they are prescribed.

So as a caregiver, what can you really do to help your loved one through their stages of dementia? Keep faith and a level head and follow some of these tips to help both you and your loved one’s lives.

1. Learn everything you can about dementia. Knowledge is power and it will give you an idea of what to expect.

2. Recognize and accept what you are now dealing with. Denial will only work for so long.

3. Communication skills are a must. Timing and communication with your loved one, family, and even yourself, is the most important thing you will do as a caregiver.

4. Trust your instinct. If you think that you need another doctor or diagnostic test – then go for it. Better to be safe than sorry.

5. Have all of your paperwork in order. Know that living wills and a power of attorney will limit or help you.

After dealing with thousands of clients, I’ve found that being honest is the best way to successfully get through this time. Dealing with the reality of the stages of dementia and what needs to be accomplished is the most direct and proactive approach. Some want the facts right away, some aren’t quite ready for them, and some choose to ignore them.

Sugarcoating information doesn’t do anyone any good. As your coach, I’m here to give you the best information and advice that will address the stages of dementia and what you’re going through. Each situation and family is unique.

As a team, we will explore the best options available for you and your family and together we will make every stage of dementia better for everyone.

Photo courtesy of Ann Gordon

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