|WellPoint Offers Tips for Caring for a Loved One with Dementia|
June Marks Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
Dementia is loss of memory and a variety of other symptoms that
interfere with daily life. It is a disease caused by physical changes in
the brain that result in cell death. Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease,
is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of
cases.3 It is estimated that one of every three seniors dies
with some form of dementia.4 Much of the care for someone
with dementia falls upon their families, including the person’s spouse
and children. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2014
Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, 15.5 million
caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care for
people with dementia in 2013 valued at more than
In connection with the inaugural Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, which is being recognized throughout June, WellPoint offers the following tips for those caring for a loved one with dementia.
1. Learn about dementia. By learning about dementia, a caregiver can better understand how the disease is currently impacting a loved one and anticipate changes to come as the disease progresses. The person with dementia may be unable to find words, construct complete sentences, remember names and details, and complete once simple tasks. The Alzheimer’s Association offers educational materials and workshops on the 10 Warnings Signs of Alzheimer’s disease, planning for the future and more. To find a local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, visit alz.org or call 1-800-272-3900.
2. Understand the benefits available in a loved one’s insurance.
People over age 65 likely have
3. Coordinate health care decisions as soon as possible. It’s critical to talk to a loved one about their health care wishes in the early-stage of the disease while they are still able to contribute to the planning process. Discussing preferences and establishing plans can alleviate stress for both the person living with dementia and the caregiver. Caregivers should encourage their loved one to consider creating a power of attorney for health care, also known as an “advance directive.” This document allows the person with dementia to appoint someone to make health care decisions on their behalf when he or she can no longer do so and indicates the type of medical treatment they want and don’t want. The person with dementia can appoint a family member or a trusted friend to act as their power of attorney. It’s important to select a back-up person, too. Because of privacy laws, insurers may not even be able to talk to a caregiver about a loved one’s health without proper documentation.
4. Ensure a safe environment. Most people want to be able stay in their home as long as possible, but the environment must be safe for them. Some MA plans have specialized teams that are trained to go to a member’s home and conduct home safety evaluations, including assessing the risk of falls and recommending equipment, such as a cane, that may help reduce the risk for fall. Take advantage of this service if it’s available. Also, research how to make a loved one safe and comfortable while retaining as much independence as possible. The Alzheimer’s Association offers safety guidance and resources on topics such as driving, wandering and natural disasters at alz.org/safetycenter.
5. Make sure your loved one keeps all doctor appointments. While there are not currently treatments that stop or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, research is advancing quickly, including possible new medications and treatments.
6. The last, and perhaps most important tip for caregivers, is to
make sure to take care of their own health, too. According to the
Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures, caregivers for those
with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia had
This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider for advice about treatments that may affect your health.
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