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We’re on the precipice of numerous new dementia diagnoses that family members across the country will need to address.

By Ann Norwich, Contributor June 26, 2017, at 6:00 a.m.

When a loved one starts to lose his or her memory, it can be a struggle for the entire family. The person who has been the head of the family may soon fade from the person they once were, leaving their loved ones to wonder what will come next.

Making this time even harder to handle are the numerous questions that suddenly become urgent. Do they have a will? Who has power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf? Does anyone know what is important to them? What is their full life story

Far too often, families end up in this situation without anything on paper regarding their loved one’s final wishes. Talking about dementia is perceived to be so taboo that medical professionals often don’t discuss it with their patients. There’s a stigma that a diagnosis of dementia will lead to a person being treated differently, and consequently, many are left not knowing their diagnosis.

People might even hide their own struggles with memory, leaving little time to answer the important questions until it’s too late. An individual’s quality of life is vastly improved when these questions are settled and their family has the invaluable peace of mind of knowing their loved one’s wishes.

As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, we’re on the precipice of numerous new dementia diagnoses that family members across the country will need to address. Instead of reinforcing the long-standing stigma, we must instead meet it head-on by asking five important questions.

  1. What are the signs of dementia? Surprisingly, forgetting names of people is not a sign of dementia. Mixing up names of objects, however, is. For a more complete list of signs, check the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.
  2. Does my loved one have dementia? Once you’re familiar with the early signs, consider your loved one’s behaviors. Were they once a social butterfly who has closed themselves off from the outside world? Do they have trouble answering questions like “Where are you?” Do they deflect and make a joke when they can’t answer a question? Do they put ice cream in the oven instead of the freezer? All these behaviors are signs of cognitive impairment. Some might appear obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy for people to hide their mental lapses by telling a story instead of answering your questions.
  3. What do they want for their future? Upon a diagnosis of dementia, it becomes crucial to plan as soon as possible. Commit everything to paper while your loved one is still able to make their wishes known. Palliative care professionals can assist patients and their families in making these choices, such as who will make decisions on their behalf when they are no longer able. There are also financial advisors who specialize in elder care and can assist in estate planning and allocating assets to pay for an assisted living facility or in-home extended care.
  4. What’s their life story? It can help a person with dementia stay cognizant if they’re asked to recount their lives. Journaling or recording a video diary can also help a family bond and commit their history to a tangible form. Every family has wonderful stories that are worth preserving, and laying out the narrative of their lives can help someone with dementia maintain their faculties a bit longer. It also helps them feel valued when being ignored is one of the biggest fears associated with a diagnosis of dementia.
  5. How do they want to be treated? A major contributor to the stigma of dementia is the fear that a diagnosis will lead to a change in social status and how someone is treated. As a caregiver, I always approach a patient first when I enter the room. I make eye contact with them as well as physical contact such as touching their shoulder or shaking their hand. I ask as many questions as possible of the patient themselves to convey that they, my patient, are at the core of everything we’re doing.

Dear Friends and Members of NOCSC:

This is just a reminder that June is National Elder Abuse Awareness Month and as such NOCSC is hosting two special events:

1) the 11th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event on Saturday 17 June .  If you are a non-profit agency and would like to have an Exhibitor Table, please make sure that I have your Sign-Up sheet and your organization’s logo.  We will also have a Table available for our for-profit organizations where you can leave a small sample of your information.  We are asking our exhibitors (both for-profit and non-profit) if possible, to provide a $20+ Raffle Prize as well, and you may bring that to the Event on Saturday the 17th;

2) the next NOCSC Educational Forum for Professionals is on Tuesday, 20 June at 8:30 a.m. entitled, “Identifying and Fighting Financial Abuse on Seniors” and there will be more information soon on this event!; and

3) As an extra Bonus, we are also hoping to have the new 2017-2018 NOCSC Senior Resource Guide ready to begin passing out at both of these events!  Please pass on this important information to your clients and contact lists!

Dear Members and Friends of NOCSC:

Just a reminder of next week’s NOCSC All Member / General Meeting next Tuesday, 16 May 2017 at 8:30 a.m. is the May All Member General NOCSC meeting and we will be discussing:

  • The 11th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event in Buena Park on Saturday, 17 June 

  • While the WEAAD Table Space will be limited to non-profits and government organizations, we will have a NOCSC Table that will be available for our for-profit members to place a limited number of their agency brochures on.  Please note that space will be very limited, but will be available to members;

  • The 2017-2018 Senior Resource Guide including new edits and inclusions;

  • The 2017 Senior Unmet Needs Survey ~ and possible themes to cover;

  • New location and time options to hold the “Senior Resources 101” class;

  • And other concerns and issues as well.

 

May 16th – All Member General Meeting 8:30 -10:00 a.m. located at 130 Bastanchury Rd., Fullerton, Ca 92835

May 24th – Senior Care 101 Class 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. located 

130 Bastanchury Rd., Fullerton, Ca 92835