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When someone is diagnosed with some sort of dementia – or really any time you are unsure of how to care for an aging loved one – you should get an assessment and create a care plan.

An assessment is most commonly performed by a social worker, dementia care coordinator or geriatric care manager.  The assessment determines what your loved one’s current status regarding activities of daily living, living arrangements and other items that need to be considered when evaluating someone’s overall situation.

Once the assessment is complete the dementia care coordinator can create a care plan which becomes the roadmap for getting the care they need.  The care plan uses the assessment to identify needs and recommend appropriate solutions to meet whatever needs are identified. For example if the assessment indicates that someone can no longer live on their own and outlines preferences of the individual, the care plan would identify solutions that meet those needs in keeping with the preferences indicated if it is possible.  The goal of the care plan is to provide the individual with the best possible care and the highest quality of life in the least restrictive environment. The dementia care coordinator will then either provide lists of appropriate vendors that can provide whatever service is necessary or personally work with the family to interview and select the best care provider for the individual.

Working with a dementia care coordinator or social worker can take all of the guesswork out of finding care for your loved one.  The assessment identifies the needs your loved one has at this point in time and the care plan maps out the solutions to their issues.  The dementia care coordinator allows the caregivers to seamlessly move past the question of what is going on and how to we find the right care to identifying the specific needs of their loved one and finding appropriate solutions tailored to meet those needs.  This may be the most important part in the process because striving for care in the least restrictive environment often leads to the most cost effective solutions and, possibly, less money spent over the lifetime of the elderly individual.

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