George wondered if he should see a doctor. In past few months, George had significant difficulty with simple math. Earlier, he could calculate mileage of his car, tips for wait staff without using a calculator. George wanted to go to his physician but was worried that he was getting “senile”. After his granddaughter visited him, George decided to visit the doctor. He wanted to stay physically and mentally healthy to see her grow.
Many individuals who experience the signs of cognitive impairment do not seek a dementia evaluation for a variety of reasons. In some communities, a neuropsychiatrist is not available within a reasonable distance. Since it takes considerable time and money to visit a specialist, individuals, who may potentially receive a diagnosis, postpone it. For some individuals, social stigma or personal beliefs regarding mental health prevents them from seeking a diagnosis. As a community, we need to make collective efforts to eliminate these causes and facilitate an early diagnosis.
An early diagnosis of dementia has several benefits for a person with dementia and their caregivers. In the early stages of dementia, a person has the capacity to provide input in their care-plan and make decisions about the future care or advanced care planning. Although not all possible scenarios are discussed, some approaches and preferences regarding medical care can be. This may also include preferences about the palliative care the end of life care. An early diagnosis enables a person with dementia design their care plan with their caregivers.
Depending on the type of dementia and overall health of the person, the life expectancy of a person diagnosed with dementia could be up to 20 years. An early diagnosis allows the person to engage themselves in the activities of their choice and revise their schedules accordingly. Some persons with dementia continue to pursue their old hobbies such as music with a new intensity while others choose to do new things such as travel with their partners. Most persons with dementia report their activities as a rewarding experience. Some simply choose to document their lives through blogging or spend time with their family members. Personalized care plan supports creative expression of persons with dementia.
With an early diagnosis, the caregiver also has time to plan for the challenges in caregiving. For example, George, who lives by himself, was able to join a local volunteer organization that works with persons with dementia to plan independent living. When George can no longer live by himself, he wants his youngest son and daughter-in-law to move in with him. George’s son is aware that he will be moving in with his father and has registered with caregiver’s support groups to learn more about dementia. An early diagnosis facilitates open communication and minimizes care-related conflicts.
Research indicates that when it comes to dementia, the care plans need to be personalized. One-size-fits-all solutions have minimal utility. An early diagnosis facilitates developing personalized care plans and revising them as needed. At Alzcare labs, we intend to help persons with dementia to achieve their personal goals. We are developing products that will keep persons with dementia safe while pursuing their goals. To know more about our efforts, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.