In part two of this article, Stewart McGinn, managing director at Baycroft Care Homes, looks at how to help someone displaying signs of dementia, a GP diagnosis, referral to a specialist, coming to terms with the diagnosis, deciding the level of care and choosing the right care home.
The first step is to help your family member, loved one, or friend get a diagnosis from a specialist.
To be referred to a specialist, you will need to make a GP appointment where the doctor will ask about the patient’s symptoms.
It is always best to accompany the person displaying early signs of dementia to the appointment, as you might notice changes or issues that they themselves have not, or simply because they might have trouble remembering any information given by the GP.
The doctor will usually do a physical examination, a type of memory test, and may even want to send your bloodwork or urine off for results to help rule out other things that can contribute to memory loss.
Referral to a specialist
Once seen by a GP, if the doctor thinks the patient needs to be referred, they can visit one or multiple specialists, including a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or geriatrician.
This will often include more memory tests, tests to assess thinking abilities and problem-solving, and scans like a CT scan or MRI.
Help to come to terms with the diagnosis
People suffering from early signs of dementia may struggle to come to terms with the diagnosis, or have more questions or worries that they want to be answered.
There are a number of dementia charities and support lines that can provide your loved one with some comfort during this difficult time.
- Alzheimer’s Research UK can be contacted at 0300 111 511. They can answer any questions and provide information about dementia, to help family members better understand it.
- Alzheimer’s Society also provides a support line called the Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. This helpline gives out advice about suffering from dementia;
- Dementia UK helpline can be reached at 0800 888 6678 and offers information, advice and support from specialist admiral nurses.
Deciding the level of care
If you are concerned that your loved one is struggling to deal with everyday tasks and is no longer able to live alone, it is important to contact social services to request a needs assessment.
This assessment will determine the type of help the person living with dementia will require, whether it is carers visiting the home or whether they will need to go into more permanent care.
There will also be a financial assessment to determine how much your family member, or your family will need to contribute.
Choosing the right care home
If your loved one can no longer care for themselves and needs to be moved into a care home, it is vital that you choose one that both you and your family member are happy with to avoid any upset in the transition.
A high-quality and carefully selected care home can not only provide a safe environment with trained carers on hand for someone living with dementia, but it can also provide many home comforts that make your loved one feel at ease during this difficult time.
There are a number of questions you can ask or elements to consider to make sure you are choosing the right care home for your family member, such as:
- The carer-to-resident ratio;
- What is the policy on visiting?
- Enquiring about the meals and timings;
- Ensuring well-maintained facilities;
- What activities are available;
- If there is an outside area or garden accessible for residents;
- The comfort and standard of the rooms;
- Staff training for residents with dementia;
- What the daily routines are like and how flexible these are to each resident;
- If there is a TV, radio or a quieter space like a reading room.
McGinn’s previous article looked at identifying the signs to look out for in your loved ones and the next steps to take to provide them with the correct help that they need – Read more.