E- Dementia management is a full time job. If you're realizing that you're beginning this journey with a loved one then this read is an important one for you.
Often the first "hint" of a problem is mentioned by internal medicine providers. These physicians/NPs should direct you to a geriatric psychiatrist/Gerontologist for further evaluation. This referral is imperative as dementia management is long term and outside the scope of internal medicine.
The team of geriatric providers will include a physician, nurse practitioner (NP), social worker and possibly a dietitian. A complete cognitive evaluation of the patient and detailed discussion with family will take place during your initial visit. The Geriatric specialists will manage the medications as well. Medications are almost always necessary to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia that often accompany AD. Close communication between family and the geriatric team is extremely important. Unfortunately some medications will work better than others but you won't know until you make some changes, and you can't make changes if you don't call up your geriatric providers..(so communicate closely regarding effectiveness of the meds)
Insurance issues can also be addressed with the geriatric team...and they'll refer you for further assistance if necessary. The Alzheimer's Association in your area is also a great resource. They can direct you to caregivers, support groups, research opportunities and so much more! Remember....these dedicated groups (physicians, NPs, social workers, volunteers and elder advocates) are all HERE TO HELP YOU!!!
So if you're waking up (like I am) to your loved one wearing two bath robes and a ski vest and you're wondering what the hell is going on.....don't ignore the 'out of the ordinary' behaviors. As the competent spouse it's common to defend the failing partner for their unusual choice of clothes, conversations, food selections, sleeping habits etc.
Don't give up on your loved one, give them the help they need.