Plan ahead – getting ready for the transition to care facilities

Being diagnosed with Dementia is a shock for any family, in the same way that the transition to care can be, if carers do not prepare themselves in advance. Unfortunately, this is a progressive condition that has no cure. So there is a high chance that you will have to face the difficult decision to place your loved one in a facility, for their own sake and to ensure they are better cared for as the disease progresses. It is not easy,and can be particularly overwhelming if families do not prepare themselves in advance. There are some actions that can make this transition smoother and easier to manage, especially organising the family finances and researching facilities available in your area.
The first step is to organise  finances. Obtaining power of attorney is one of the first actions you may wish to take when someone in your life is diagnosed with Dementia. Without this document, basic tasks can become complicated. The ideal time to organise this is early on after the diagnosis, when the person with the disease can still make the decision. Understanding what this person does for the family is another issue. For instance, if they are the ones paying the bills and dealing with the family finances, it is important for other family members to begin paying attention and learn what needs to be done moving forward. Furthermore, bank PINs and online banking passwords must be passed from the affected individual to their caretaker. The idea is to prepare yourself to take over this person’s day-to-day activities before they are unable to do this for themselves. This is a gradual process, and it is important to be prepared for when this difficult time comes.
Once finances have been organised, the next step is to search for facility options and discuss them with your loved ones. If this issue is discussed in advance, the patient can still give their input and maintain some autonomy in their own care by clarifying what amenities they would like to have. It is important to search for an option that aligns with the patient’s lifestyle, to ensure they are as comfortable as possible. Additionally, this would remove the pressure on the family to make a decision on their behalf, as they could take into account the person’s wishes. Taking small steps and having these conversations in advance can make a big difference as the disease progresses. Discussing it within the family allows its members to come to terms and accept the situation more easily, knowing they are well prepared. People may think that ignoring these issues and neglecting to discuss them is the least painful way to handle the diagnosis, but with Dementia, foresight and preparation can significantly ease the burden on the affected person’s family and loved ones.
Being a carer is challenging enough, so be prepared and plan ahead where possible.