When a loved one receives a dementia diagnosis, a family’s life can turn upside down. In such situations, families may not know much about the disease, including what to expect with treatment or if the treatment will help slow the progression of this disease. The inevitable question is, “how soon before a person diagnosed with dementia begins to need care that the family cannot capably provide?” If you are dealing with a person with memory issues, you will likely benefit from the expertise and assistance of qualified dementia/memory caregivers.

It often becomes overwhelming for loved ones to provide the proper care for someone unable to perform activities of daily living. Bathing, medication management, dressing, and making meals or feeding often become very difficult for people suffering from dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association says that providing proper care for someone with dementia goes beyond meeting basic needs. It also means finding caregivers who treat the whole person and provide an environment that can enable the person to be safe yet reasonably independent.

To get started, one should first assess the needs of their loved one with dementia. How many services he or she will require depends on whether that person can use the bathroom, walk, eat, or bathe independently. Care needs tend to be lesser in the early stages of dementia. However, during the middle and end stages of dementia, 24-hour supervision, and more intensive medical care often become necessary.

Some families start by hiring a visiting caregiver who can come to the house. A certified in-home care service should offer advanced dementia care protocols, developed from working with leading dementia specialists. Caregivers may also provide companionship and helpful reminders. Or, they may assist clients with personal tasks. A key aspect of dementia care is preventing wandering. Studies show that six in 10 people with dementia will wander. A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or address and can become disoriented — even in familiar places. Caregivers can put protocols in place to help reduce wandering. Alert bracelets and GPS tracking devices can help in this regard as well.

At some point, caregivers can help a family transition someone with dementia into a facility that specializes in memory care. Specially trained social workers and aides will help a family navigate the legalities of medical insurance and long-term care insurance, as well as government assistance programs that may help offset the costs of more intensive care. It’s never too soon to begin discussions about developing a care plan for someone with dementia. Qualified and compassionate caregivers can help ease the burden of dementia on patients and their families.

CAPTION: Finding a quality memory caregiver can provide invaluable peace of mind for families of people living with dementia.