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Caring for Someone With Dementia – Dr. Sanjay Gupta

The AARP recently posted the following tips on caring for your loved one with dementia.

“Hey I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta and these are AARP’s top tips on caring for someone with dementia from my new AARP* supported book, “Keep Sharp”.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is life-changing but life doesn’t stop there with the right support many patients can thrive for years after diagnosis and some can live another twenty years or more.

Here are four tips on where to start. First meet people with dementia where they are, and treat them with dignity. For instance, if the person you were caring for asks for dinner because she forgot she already ate just ask her if she’s hungry without trying to force her to recall an experience that is no longer retrievable in her brain.

You don’t want to correct people with dementia.

Your goal is to help them live well and to do that you need to take care of yourself. Caregivers can become the invisible second patient from the stress and demands of looking after their loved one. Make sure to take time for yourself eat well, exercise, socialize, get rest. Always take care of your own physical and emotional needs so you can be there for someone else.

Next, organize your care team and build your own support network. No one can walk this road alone. Family and friends, neighbors, volunteers, health professionals they can all form your care team. Ask for help when you need it.

After diagnosis the sooner you ask for what your loved one wants and needs and identify your own needs the better. And perhaps most importantly make a plan for the future today ‘cause decision making is only going to get tougher down the road.

take inventory of your loved one’s finances, insurance and legal documents such as wills and Powers of Attorney. Then you can start to estimate the cost of care moving forward and how to pay for it. Consider current and future health care options as well as end-of-life care.

People with earlier stage dementia should weigh in on their future personal care plans so you know how to handle options such as feeding tubes or do not resuscitate orders. These are tough but important decisions to make without instructions in place you may end up spending more time and more money in a crisis than if you’d planned ahead.

It’s never easy to handle a dementia diagnosis. But starting with these steps will help both you and your loved one make the most of your future together.”

 *AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age.