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What To Do When You Notice Cognitive Decline

In my  November newsletter  I listed indicators to look for in older adults that suggest signs of cognitive decline.

So if you picked up changes what do you do??


Here are recommended action steps:
1. Schedule a comprehensive medical check-up. Preferably with a gerontologist. Have someone present at the appointment to learn the results of the exam and recommendations.

2 .If there is a neurologist who is part of the care team, send an update of signs of change. This might lead to an appointment which should be accompanied.
Due to cognitive decline, have all doctor’s offices have someone else as primary contact besides the patient.

3. If your observations are confirmed with a diagnosis of cognitive impairment become educated about the impact of the disease on the individual and those who will be involved in care.

4. Create a handy one page information sheet which includes:
•emergency contacts
•phone and email of family, friends, neighbors
•preferred hospital and pharmacy
•Medicare/Medicaid #

5. Get a large format calendar which is easy to read and readily accessible.

6 .Make a list of what is needed to assure:
   •home safety
   •personal safety, (for instance, are medications up to date and being taken accurately, is the person a safe driver)
   •ongoing involvement in activities outside the home

7. Inform family members of the observed changes and start to routinely keep them updated. It is important to educate and involve family and friends.


8 .Know what legal and financial documents and insurance policies exist. If action is needed ,consult  an elder law attorney.

9 .Become informed of local care options, and support for care providers:
   •day care
   •homecare
   •respite care
   •entitlements

Tips
✔ Most individuals with a form of dementia do not realize that their memory has changed and they still feel that they should be in charge. It requires that others who are stepping in lend support with patience and compassion.

✔ This is the time to be proactive and to be willing to seek and accept support from others including family/friends and professionals knowledgeable in the field of dementia.

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