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Supporting a Couple When One Has Dementia

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1. Read the articles on the AARP resource page In Sickness and in Health (Sometimes) Anguish after considering the needs of John and Anna; then, read 6 Signs of Caregiver Burnout and consider the following: 

  • What concerns do you have for John as Anna’s dementia progresses?
  • What resources would you suggest that might be helpful to John and Anna?
  • How would you collaborate and support John to get Anna help when she says no?
  • What do you think John is experiencing?
  • What challenges do you surmise John will face as Anna’s dementia progresses?

2. Read the article on the AARP resource page: When Loved Ones with Dementia Feel Ashamed and Cover Up Mistakes         

  • How would you advise John to manage Anna’s agitated behaviors?
  • What caregiver support groups might be helpful to John as he copes with Anna’s dementia?
  • How can you help John and Anna maintain their dignity as the dementia progresses?

3. As dementia progresses care needs change. There becomes a point where it is too difficult for family to manage the situation alone. In-home care, day care, assisted living and nursing home care are some of the options. The decision on what type of care is optimal for the patient is generally linked to level of functioning.  Finances also play a key role in making these decisions.  Patients who have long term care insurance; need verification that their level of care meets the criteria of the policy. 

4. Consider the functional changes cognitive, physical and behavioral that accompanies a diagnosis of dementia.  Connect these changes with what type of care an individual may need. For example does the caregiver need some respite and having a home health aide a few hours a day satisfies this need; or does the patient need 24 hour skilled care?

  • How would you begin to assess the functional abilities of a patient? (hint review the how to try this SPICES assessment or Mini Cog from the suggested readings section)
  • What tools might be helpful as you conduct this assessment?
  • How are risks and benefits discussed in terms of safety and the appropriate care environment?
  • How is the caregiver’s needs considered when decisions about care are being made about their spouse?
  • What kind of financial assistance is available for care?

5. Use the AARP Long Term Care Calculator: Estimate the cost of staying in the various levels of care by state. Compare and contrast costs of assisted living, in home help and long term care in your area.

  • How would you help to guide a family as they look at the options of varying levels of care?
  • What resources would you recommend to a family as they make decisions about transitioning to a different level of care?
  • How do you think varying levels of care are financed in your particular state?

Getting Started
Suggested Reading
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