The impaired judgement caused by dementia can be a risk if the person has use of cheque books and cards. A joint account that requires two signatures for bank withdrawals and cheques, may offer a solution. However, a couple that doesn't already have a joint account should take advice before setting one up if it is possible that, at some stage, either party may have their assets assessed for the costs of residential care.
The ideas below might help:
This should be done in the very early stages of dementia. This must be set up by a solicitor or trustee company.
You should check that the person with dementia, and you as a carer, are receiving all the benefits you're entitled to. Always check whether a benefit affects any others you are receiving.
There are 3 benefits you should certainly check:
For further information we suggest you contact
phone 0800 737 777. Alternatively you can contact your local branch of Work and Income New Zealand.
You may also be entitled to a Community Services Card, which will reduce the costs of a range of medical services.
Phone 0800 999 999 for more information.
In the early stages of the disease, the person with dementia may be able to cope with providing their own food, with some help with shopping and a few prompts around the kitchen, or perhaps a meal delivery service. As the dementia progresses it may require someone to be present for at least one meal a day to ensure that they are actually eating enough. They may forget to eat or how to cook food properly.
Older people often have reduced appetites and inevitably lose weight, particularly in the early stages of dementia. Not eating or drinking enough can worsen the symptoms of dementia and affect their general health. While a balanced diet is to be encouraged, the key is to eat and drink plenty and regularly.
Here are some tips for helping someone with dementia to eat and drink enough:
People's tastes may change as their dementia develops. They may suddenly start - or go back to - having sugar in their tea or go off their favourite food, or revert to particular dislikes. Ask what they really fancy for dinner or as a treat. It may seem like extra work but could be worth a stress-free mealtime.
In the later stages of dementia, you may need to feed the person you care for:
Maintaining a person's choice and involvement in their clothes for as long as possible can help to keep a sense of identity and dignity.
Here are some tips for helping the person with dementia to dress for themselves as long as possible
Personal hygiene routines are a common source of anxiety for people with dementia and their carers, so this needs to be handled sensitively. The individual will have been carrying out their own personal hygiene activities since they were a child, so requiring help or becoming dependent on others can be embarrassing and awkward, both for the individual and you as their carer. This is a key area where prolonging independence for as long as possible and offering unobtrusive help is important.
Some tips you may find useful:
Allowing the person some privacy to undress or to bathe if they desire will make bathing easier for you both:
Continence problems can be very distressing for both the individual and carer. Controlling urges to go to the toilet is taught at an early age and losing this ability can make an individual feel they are losing control of their dignity and life. Many people find it hard to accept help with such an intimate area and they may try to hide their continence problems. Treating the issue in a matter of fact way, or using humour, may help prevent blowing it up into a bigger problem.
Some practical tips to make using the toilet easier:
Activities can really help improve the quality of life for the individual with dementia, as well as providing stimulation and helping them to express themselves.
In the early stages of dementia, encourage the person to continue any activities they already enjoy, if possible. This will help to maintain a sense of self-identity and purpose. You might want to find some activities that the person finds calming, or that enables you to spend calm, peaceful time together. For example, knitting, painting, watching cricket, gardening or listening to music together. You may want to recapture fun and enjoyment, so think about dancing or singing, a game of darts or a trip to a beauty salon.
The symptoms and capabilities of the person may change from day to day and people with dementia often have a short concentration span. To avoid frustration by inappropriate or ambitious tasks, here are some key points that may help:
In the early stages of dementia the person may be able to cope relatively well on their own, supported by some adaptations around the home and regular visits to check on them. This may continue to be the best option for anything from a few months to a few years. However, dementia is a progressive condition and their symptoms and abilities will worsen. Preparing and planning, during the early stages, for their increased dependency can give you some time to consider the best option for all concerned.
If the person wishes to remain in their own home, there are obvious concerns about their safety and ability to cope. People with dementia can place themselves in danger due to their reduced concentration and impaired judgement.
Some points on safety which may be useful:
Being diagnosed with dementia does not automatically mean that a person cannot drive – however safety must be the overriding factor and it is highly likely that as the dementia progresses they will lose their ability to drive safely.
For further information www.nzta.govt.nz