15 Essential Tips to Navigate Your Journey With Dementia

15 Essential Tips to Navigate Your Journey With Dementia

It was a chilly winter evening in January and snow was in the forecast again.  I was at my absolute lowest energy level when Mom finally drifted off to sleep. Bedtime was getting more and more difficult with her Dementia and declining general health. These last three years were taking a toll on both of us. There was a brief surge of elation with a few minutes of peace and quiet to collect my thoughts.  I steeped a cup of chamomile tea and reviewed my growing list of tasks for tomorrow.  

As I pulled myself up and headed for bed, I was startled by a dreadful sound from upstairs. A big thump and a cry for help.  OH NO!!  Not a fall!!  I had been so careful to keep her safe!  Please, don’t be hurt!  PLEASE…

The Dreaded Fall

I found mom on the floor, tears in her eyes, something appeared to be terribly wrong with her right leg.   My heart was beating out of my chest as I tried to comfort her, but she only became more furious at me.  Mom had been suffering with Dementia for the last 5 years and moved in about a year ago. It was a huge adjustment for everyone. I was completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the job of caring for another person. I promised her early on that she would never go to a nursing home. 

Another Emergency Room Visit

The ambulance arrived with blinding lights and blaring sirens and zipped Mom to the nearest hospital.  When I finally found her room, Mom had already been to X-ray but the doctor still needed to come in with the results.  The nurse had given her something powerful for the pain, but she was still able to mumble over and over, “I wanna to go home! I wanna to go home!”

How could this be happening?  Please let me wake up from this paralyzing dream.  I thought I was doing an adequate job with her care.  I mean, she had been getting weaker, and it was more and more challenging getting up and down the stairs, but I thought we had more time. We need more time!

Greatest Fear

 The Emergency Room Physician slid the curtain back and explained the results of the X-rays.  Mom’s hip was fractured in several places and we had a list of decisions to make and the first one was whether to do surgery or not.  I was feeling more and more anxious, hardly hearing the doctor over the throbbing pain in my head.  Then, like a punch in the stomach, he recommended mom be placed in a nursing home for rehab then permanently, considering the increased nursing care she would require.

 Do you have a place in mind? Hello? Hello Miss, are you listening? I snapped out of my “lost in space” state. Do you have a plan B?

Finding Senior Home Care in a Rush Rarely Ends Well

Stories like this were all too common when I worked for many years in the emergency department.  A dedicated and compassionate family caregiver is faced with multiple life-changing decisions that she or he somehow hoped would never be needed.  The race is on to research and find the right place with a great reputation, in the best location, at an affordable cost…..

Your Story Can Be Different

I recommend we rewind the story and get plan B ready. Plan instead to avoid this all too common scenario which can lead to increased stress, guilt, and many regrets.

Tips to Navigate Your Journey

  1. Have the Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney and Living Will paperwork signed, notarized, and get copies to the people involved.
  2. Accept the fact that we all will need extra help eventually.  We all will need a plan B!
  3. Research your finances so you know what living arrangements are affordable for you.
  4. Investigate for long-term care insurance, pension plans, senior housing options or VA Benefits that could offset costs.
  5. Contact local companies who specialize in downsizing and/or relocating seniors.
  6. If your loved one needs Memory Care, research locations near you.
  7.  It is important to get a tour, to assess for a pleasant atmosphere, good smells, nutritious food and a compassionate experienced staff.
  8. Look for the longevity of the management and read the reviews.
  9. Be prepared to get on a waiting list for the more desirable locations.
  10. You may also need homecare or adult daycare prior to moving into a community.
  11. Some retirement communities have multiple living arrangements available at one location, so you can be in the same building or campus with a loved one who needs memory care.
  12. Understand that Medicare is primarily for doctor appointments, hospital stays, rehab, hospice care and additional services depending on your plan. Medicare does not cover senior housing.
  13.  Medicaid can pay for long term care when a Senior has very low income. Check your state’s requirements.
  14. Make your funeral arrangements early and pay for them ahead of time.
  15. Plan for your future and get your Plan B in place today.

About Teresa Youngstrom

Teresa Youngstrom is a Seasoned Registered Nurse and Dementia Specialist. She has more than 35 years of Clinical and Leadership experience in Healthcare. She became intensely focused on Memory Care when it touched her own family. Teresa is a PAC Certified Independent Trainer under Teepa Snow. Her passion for improving the lives of people living with Dementia led her to start her own business, “A Better Approach to Memory Care”, where she provides staff training, family consulting and professional education. Visit me at www.teresayoungstrom.com

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