Many older adults worry about dementia. The aging process normally includes some forgetfulness, but dementia is quite different.
reduced ability to multitask. The aging brain simply needs to slow down and do one thing at a time. It may take longer to do things, but they do get done.
slower recall. An older adult might not remember a word or event right away, but will eventually. It might take a few minutes, or hours, but the memory will surface.
Dementia is more disorienting
It involves the inability to make new memories. It’s like a blank slate. The memory just isn’t there. The event didn’t stick. Dementia also involves losing the ability to do even common activities, such as use a phone or make change. Tasks that require multiple steps will become increasingly difficult.
The early stage of dementia can be one of confusion, fear, and depression. Even if there is no formal diagnosis, the person with the memory issue often senses that something is wrong. And he or she may still have enough self-awareness to understand the consequences of a disease such as Alzheimer’s. It’s equally likely that the person may not recognize their own decline. They just don’t recall recent events. It’s nothing they are doing on purpose. It’s not like they can “try harder.” They can’t. The memories simply don’t form.
In the early stages, you may not even know there is a problem. Your family member may just seem a little less “with it.” People are very adept at compensating. And if your relative is married, a spouse may naturally take up the slack. But if you suspect something is not right, get a full medical assessment just to be sure.
Early diagnosis is important. Medications are available that can slow the progression of the symptoms. And it may be that your loved one’s confusion is caused by something such as depression, which can be cured. The sooner your family member gets tested, the sooner treatment can begin.
Deciding who to tell and when. Many people feel ashamed of a diagnosis of dementia. And some people or situations may become uncomfortable once a diagnosis is disclosed. This is a very personal decision.
Concern about driving. Driving requires thinking and good spatial skills. Dementia impairs both of these. The person with dementia is not likely to even recognize they have a problem. Everyone will eventually need to retire from driving. Knowing exactly when to stop is complicated. Read our article about driving safely and talk with the doctor.
Depression is big. Depression can cause many of the same symptoms as dementia. And, a person with memory problems can get very frustrated and feel very blue. Especially after a formal diagnosis, it is not uncommon for the patient to become depressed. The good news is that depression can be treated. Staying on top of the depression can at least lessen the number of factors contributing to your relative’s confusion or distress.
Join a support group. People in the early stages of dementia have special problems and needs. So do their family members. Gathering with others can provide a tremendous amount of comfort for you both. You are also likely to learn valuable tips for handling common situations.
Important legal and financial decisions. This is the time to make decisions about financial and medical matters. Now, when your loved one is still able to assess options, he or she should complete an advance directive. Your relative should also arrange for a will or living trust. He or she should assign a person to handle finances when managing money becomes too difficult. See our article about proxy decision makers in Your Changing Role.
I'm writing to recommend Care Giving Corner for the best elder care management services I have come across. We were introduced to them for help with our parents' care by the Rev. Lisa Saunders at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, who had known our family for 20 or 30 years. We had worked with a couple of the big national elder-care chains before, but their people seem so limited and their standard of care seemed very "average" at best.We work with Susan Ferone as our case worker/manager and Allyson Cooksy as our RN. They are conscientious, high-caliber, top-flight people. They're the kind of people we'd want to entertain with and be friends with, not just tolerate as hired help.They recently helped my parents identify and move to a retirement community that is a vast improvement over the retirement facility they had been in before. They connected us with services that helped with organizing, packing, moving, unpacking, setting up, and settling in. They even helped my mother find a decorator to help with some fabric choices and paint schemes to suit her new digs. That alone is half the battle - knowing who are the reliable, trustworthy service providers for various ancillary services.Allyson has helped my parents manage medical appointments, keep track of treatments and prescriptions, and devise daily structure that keeps things on track. She has helped identify and get services from therapists, etc. Allyson is amazing and a delight to be around.We live in a time when even those of us who are well-established and well-connected in our communities can feel bewildered by the experience of aging and everything that goes with it. Susan, Allyson, and their colleagues comprise an able and caring resource in an otherwise confusing and dysfunctional elder-care environment.
Jennifer and her team are top-notch and, without question, the best in the business. As an elder law attorney, I routinely refer my clients to Caregiving Corner because I know they will treat my clients like family. Thank you, Jennifer, for building such an incredible business that meets the needs of so many people!
Jennifer Szakaly is a registered guardian with high integrity and ethics. Jennifer goes above and beyond for her clients and she is not afraid to handle difficult cases and family dynamics to ensure her wards receive the best and most appropriate care. I cannot recommend her highly enough and I refer clients the Charlotte area to her very regularly. For any client in need of Aging Life Care Management or a Guardian, Jennifer and Caregiving Corner is the superior choice.
Caregiving Corner is an amazing resource for anyone who is navigating the experience of aging or caring for an aging family member. Jennifer and her team offer such a broad range of services - from helping families choose care facilities and make healthcare decisions to serving as a legal guardian for those who don't have family members (or whose family members are too unreliable). Their collective experience is invaluable, and most importantly, they have a genuine passion for working with older adults and their caregivers, and it shows. I enthusiastically recommend Caregiving Corner to everyone I know who is dealing with the often-challenging situation of caring for an aging loved one.
Since I started Transition With Care in 2009, a senior move management company, I have confidently referred my clients and families in need of care management services to Caregiving Corner. I have never received any negative feedback from my clients and consider Jennifer Szakaly and her team to be a shining example of how to help seniors and families navigate the complexities of caring for an aging loved one.
Our team at The Charlotte Assisted Living Community and Memory Care has had the pleasure of working with Jennifer and the Caregiving Corner Team for the last six months.During what can be some of the most trying and difficult times for their clients and loved ones, the Caregiving Corner team assists in navigating the journey to find a solution.Their compassion and dedication to their clients is above board. They offer a professional and sincere level of care to each family they are assisting. We look forward to our continued partnership.
I’m thankful for the guidance I’ve received from Jennifer Szakaly. She has helped me address current caregiving needs as well as understand options for what’s ahead. Her professionalism and experience is second to none.
I am an elder law attorney who has worked almost exclusively in the field of incompetency/guardianship for folks who no longer have the capacity to care for themselves. This is an extremely sensitive family matter, and the family of the incapacitated elder find themselves in a crisis and a world they do not understand. Caregiving Corner has been a savior to these families and lawyers in this field. Jennifer Szakaly, the founder and owner of Caregiving Corner, has assisted me in many cases, in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, with evaluating, advocating for and acting as corporate guardian in these unfortunate situations. Caregiving Corner has a staff of professionals who assess the crisis, help find placement for the individual, and care for the individual and act in their best interests in all of their health matters. Jennifer is approved with the Clerks of Court who appoint her company. She is a Board member of affiliated organizations and non-profits. She is nationally certified as a corporate guardian, as well as holds degrees and other certifications in the field of geriatric care. I don't know anyone more qualified in this field or anyone more compassionate for the work she does for others.