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Ageing concerns

Why getting a dementia diagnosis makes sense

Getting a formal diagnosis of dementia helps people to realize they need to plan for their future as soon as possible — while the person with the diagnosis can still make decisions.

This is the time to meet with an elder law attorney. They can help direct you in how to financially plan for your future. They know all the legal ramifications of protecting yourself for your future.

This is the time to complete an advanced directive. An advanced directive is a document that designates a person whom you would want to make health-care decisions for you if you could not speak for yourself. Once you decide whom you want to be your decision-maker, make sure you spend time with them explaining what you want or don’t want with regard to your health. These forms can be obtained at your health-care providers’ office. An attorney does not need to complete it. You only need two witnesses not related to you, to witness.

You should take this time to decide on a code status. This means, if your heart should stop beating and you stop breathing, would you want to be brought back to life with CPR? DNR means do not resuscitate. No CPR would be started. A peaceful death would be honored.

As people get older, the success rate with CPR is not as high as with younger people. Have a discussion with your health-care provider on DNR status. I hear a lot of confusion with this term and people think it means if they get sick they won’t be treated. This is a big misconception. One needs to be very clear with the concept and comfortable with the decision.

This is a good time to talk with your family and discuss your wishes for where you would want to live if you could no longer live at home. Familiarize yourself with terms such as, “continuing care retirement communities” and “assisted living communities.” If your memory should deteriorate and you need a secure unit, do they have one or do you need to move again? A secure unit is a section that has doors that can only be opened with a code, maintaining the safety of those who may wander outside.

There are agencies, such as Opening New Doors, where people can help you find the best environment for you or your loved one, without cost. It can be overwhelming to know how to look for the best facility and/or community. Agencies such as this one, will take the time to learn about you or your loved one and match a community that best meets the needs and wishes. Their website is www.openingnewdoorsnh.com.

April 14 at 11 a.m., I will be presenting “Communicating with Your Loved One with Dementia” at Rivermead in the main auditorium. On April 21, at 11 a.m. I will present “Caregiver Stress.” Location is the same, at Rivermead. If you are interested, please call Jennifer Coles at 924-0062.

Peggy Dorson Abbott is certified as a gerontological nurse practitioner and an adult mental health nurse practitioner. She has been working with older adults for over 20 years and has advanced knowledge in treatment of dementia. She provides numerous seminars throughout New Hampshire for caregivers on communication with loved ones with dementia. She lives in Peterborough with her husband, Raymond.

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