Lessons from Successful Families

To return to the idea of how successful families navigate cognitive impairment, the method is unique to the family. The key is taking action at the right time, by the right person, in the right way.

When is the right time? When might cognitive impairment be suspected? Be guided by the subject’s physician regarding these questions.

Who is the right person to start a conversation? A family member, friend, or colleague who knows the subject well can notice changes and open up a conversation. Since it is not unusual for someone to notice his or her own impairment, providing a reading list can be a start. It’s also easy enough to ask for a referral to a qualified physician for an assessment. This is a start. The goal is to see about planning for the future if dementia is diagnosed.

What is the right way to address cognitive impairment? Successful families seem to be able to address family challenges with care and skill, while preserving the dignity of the subject. Educating oneself is aways the starting point, followed by consultation with experts, and finally, the creation of a plan of care, including legal counsel and investment counsel. There are vast resources available.

The need for learning about normal healthy aging and cognitive impairment is essential. After all, millions of people, and many millions more to come as our population ages, may be called into action. As Rosalynn Carter is said to have stated: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

Julie Jason

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