The time after initial Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) diagnosis is so terribly fraught with emotions, fears, judging, confusion, denial and great sorrow that it’s tough to know what do do next. It may seem like a life sentence. And it is, so make the most of the life part of it!
A great responsibility will likely fall upon the care partner. It is a likely an incredible challenge: but by doing some things earlier — even though some issues may be very awkward or unpleasant — they’re critical, and will make life infinitely better in future, with fewer insurmountable problems. Not all are avoidable, but by doing as many of the points below as you can, your chances of having the best possible journey, under the circumstances, is vastly improved.
These Are Non-medical Priorities.
Above all, ensure that proficient, professional medical advice is sought and followed, from an experienced practioner. If you’re not getting good advice, or if you want a second opinion, actively pursue it. Finding the right specialist who is knowledgeable about Lewy Body Dementia is critical.
Ideally, these items should be done while your loved one is still cognitively able, but all items need to be addressed — in whatever way you can manage. Because of the speed of onset or delays in diagnosis, some aspects may have to be based on your knowledge of their overall wishes if they can’t now express them clearly.
Top 10 Priorities After Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis
This list is directly influenced by a large group of LBD carers. The consensus of the community was to act fast, and do specific things first, so the list is prioritized accordingly.
- Actively advocate for your loved one.
Your wits and ingenuity will be critical to their quality of cognitive, emotional and physical life, and countless other areas. It is draining, but critical: both needed and noble.
- Find out what they want for care and quality/quantity of life.
Understand their wishes on future care, emergency measures, life support, do not resuscitate (DNR), placement in a facility or home ’til the end, etc. Spend time with them and become aware of what their ups-and-downs are like, and how they are changing and evolving: see if, or for how long, staying home is viable.
- Get Powers of Attorney, both for medical care and finances.
These are are two separate items. Have a trusted lawyer review all legal documents, and ensure all appropriate ones are complete, up to date and properly signed. Provide copies to hospitals, doctors, banks, so there will be no debating during a crisis.
- Rigorously assess finances.
See what state they are in, and find out who has access, where everything is. Be rigorous and vigilant: ensure that no scams, losses or mistakes can be perpetrated upon a vulnerable person with LBD. Get joint access to banking/financial accounts. This can be critical for quick action, and assess estate tax implications as well. Someone may need to become trustee sooner than expected.
- Be ultra careful with medications.
Make sure the right doses are taken at the right times. Ensure there is two weeks supply at all times. Keep careful track of what they take: names, dosages, times, when started, and for what. Check to ensure there are no bad interactions.
- Get a supportive specialist or Neurologist and parter with them.
Nurture the relationship. Be assertive and proactive: professionals often forget how different it is to care for a person with LBD 24/7, than to see them periodically in a clinical setting. Remind them what you need. Be honest. Get them to connect you with the best local resources for support, care, advice and community. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s chapters will be exceptional resources as well, and may provide local information.
- Keep your loved one and yourself socially engaged and physically active.
Spend time with them. Quickly establish and maintain a routine of socializing, and proactively pursue others to actually keep connected. Get involved in a day-program with a group on a similar path. Focus also on physical activity and continued mobility.
- Join and actively participate in a support group online or in person — ideally, both.
There is incredible wisdom in these groups that I have not seen anywhere else, and that far exceeds medical expertise in the daily realities of LBD caring.
- Keep learning and researching.
This is especially important once you have clarity about diagnosis. Ask your specialist for connections and resources locally.
- Remind yourself that you are stronger than you think, and that you can get through all this.
Take things one bit at a time. Be prepared for unpleasant surprises, but also joyous times. Caring for someone with Lewy Body Dementia is a transformational experience.
- Forgive. Be patient. With them, with yourself, and with everyone involved.
It is a hard, hard road. Everyone is trying their best, even if it may not appear so.
This list was built with consultations and feedback from many participants in an exceptional online community of Lewy Body Dementia care partners. Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful input, it has vastly improved this article.
The other articles on this website will provide insights that are critical early in the process, and have increasing importance as the condition evolves. A selection below focuses on the most critical elements facing someone newly diagnosed.
- Emergencies, Hospitals, and ER Visits: Fast Strategies
- Keep Track of Lewy to Make Better Decisions.
- Gradually Change Schedules, Routines & Times
- Top 12 Tips: Make The Most of Medical Appointments
- Hiring Paid Caregivers to Help With Lewy Body Dementia
- Walking Is Great For Lewy Body Dementia.
- Reduce Dementia-related Swallowing Problems. Avoid Aspiration.
- Avoid Falls Caused by Lewy Body Dementia!
- Stay Safe! Lewy Body Dementia Psychotic Episode Dangers.
Strength to you!
April 24, 2016.
Always seek and get the best medical help available.
The information here is no substitute for expert medical advice.
All information on this site is merely from personal perspectives and experience, not as a medical professional.