Happy New Year.
It was a busy start of the new year as families were eager to connect, speak with an expert, learn and gather information. As January is also Alzheimers Awareness Month, I thought I would share how my first week in January 2023 was spent with several new families- all adult children worried about their parent (s) with dementia. Two scenarios are briefly outlined:
Meet John: John is the only child and attorney for both care and property for his mother, Jane. Jane is 80 and her husband died a few years ago after having been placed in Long Term Care as a result of progressing dementia. Jane lives by herself in a condo and is not in receipt of any services (either public or privately paid). Over the holidays John noticed that she looked very thin and was unkempt (dirty clothing, hair not washed) and was very forgetful. John was very tearful on the phone as he described his worry and concerns.
Meet Anne: Anne and her sister Mary are worried about their parents who are in their late 80’s. Their dad is 89 and he has had multiple heart attacks. He is the primary caregiver to their mom, Mary who is 85 and she has been diagnosed with dementia and has had two falls over the last 6 months. They live in a multi level home and receive 1 hour per week of Personal Support from their local provincial health authority.
While these are different situations there are common themes which were discussed and include:
– Obtaining a diagnosis and referral from their GP to a specialist
– Providing support for both the caregiver and the care recipient
– Ways to access or request an increase in services from the public sector
– Discussion on costs and how best to hire an experienced caregiver (PSW) to provide care, stimulation and (respite) support
– Ways to introduce the subject of bringing in care, so that it is a win = win
– Benefits of an in home safety assessment to ensure a healthy and safe home environment (discussion on falls prevention, accessibility and risk of wandering)
– Discussion on meal delivery programs and other services, (transportation, house cleaning, cognitive stimulation and routine)
– Discussion on connecting with their local Alzheimers Society for education and caregiver support programs (First Link is an excellent starting point)
– Discussion regarding important paperwork (powers of attorney)
– Discussion on cost of care at home and ‘what if’s’
Each of the points outlined are their own conversation and each family decides on their own next steps. I felt fortunate to be asked to sit down and help them start developing their own plan of care. A great first week to start of 2023!
On that note I would like to share a community resource produced by Cyber-Seniors, called ‘Reducing Your Risk of Dementia’. It is a six-part webinar series, funded by Public Health of Canada, designed to provide education and encourage conversation on the signs, symptoms and risk factors for Dementia.
January is Alzheimers Awareness Month: Let’s talk.