News from the Dementia Consortium

Yesterday, one of our staff members attended the Northern Virginia Dementia Care Consortium in Alexandria, VA. At the conference, leading experts on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias offered insights and shared best practices for caregivers and senior-serving professionals.

The following is a compilation of some helpful information that our staff member gleaned from the presentations:

  • Dr. Paul D. Nussbaum spoke about the power we all have to shape our lives for balance, health, and happiness, and preventative measures to stave off dementia. He described the importance of physical activity, nutrition, mental stimulation, spirituality, and socialization in maintaining brain health and wellness. According to Dr. Nussbaum, “we can influence the state of our physical and mental/emotional health by eating well, exercising and managing stress.” He also emphasized the importance of massage and yoga to reduce stress, heal the body, and regain balance on a spiritual, emotional and physical level.
  • Dr. Jonathan Evans discussed challenging behaviors sometimes exhibited by those with dementia, including aggression, shouting out, combativeness, eloping, and sometimes even violence. He described how most of the behaviors are in response to something, such as a perceived threat, an unmet need such as dehydration or boredom, or a result of feeling frightened, humiliated, or frustrated. He emphasized how important it is to understand the behaviors and what is triggering them, in order to deal with them effectively.
  • Christi Clark spoke about how music reawakens memories in those with dementia and reduces the need for anti-psychotic medications. According to Clark, “musical memory is profoundly linked to emotions. Alzheimer’s may destroy memories, but it doesn’t take away the connection between a favorite song and important life events.” She discussed and showed a snippet from the award winning film, “Alive Inside: A Story of Music Memory,” a documentary about the profound healing power of personalized music.
  • Dr. Steven Sabat discussed the importance of empathy when caregivers, loved ones, and professionals deal with persons with dementia. According to Sabat, “it is important to consider what it means to the person to be experiencing certain losses of ability, how they react to those losses, how caregivers react, and what the reactions of caregivers mean to the person diagnosed.” Dr. Sabat’s work uncovers and challenges negative and potentially detrimental stereotypes of dementia sufferers—for example, that they are passive, vegetables, antisocial, or irrationally angry. Such stereotypes make it easy to mistreat and misinterpret individuals with dementia. While Dr. Sabat’s approach requires considerable commitment, the results of his work reveal that persons with dementia are often hardly as disabled as they are socially expected to be.
  • Greg Risberg told inspiring stories and offered simple suggestions for anyone trying to stay hopeful and energized in a stressful world.

There is great value in sending our staff to conferences such as this one, giving us the opportunity to stay abreast on new developments in Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect our clients and our loved ones, and giving us the opportunity to share what is learned with you – our devoted readers.

Medicaid Planning for Dementia

A diagnosis of dementia is life-changing for both diagnosed individuals and those close to them.  While it’s not easy to think about, if your loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, it’s imperative to make an appointment with a Certified Elder Law Attorney, such as myself, to determine who to name to make legal, financial, and medical decisions when your loved one is no longer able to do so. In addition, if your loved one hasn’t done so already, it is also of utmost importance to determine how he or she will pay for long-term care without financially bankrupting the family.

Medicaid Asset Protection

People with dementia live on average four to eight years after they’re diagnosed, but some may live 20 years beyond their initial diagnosis. Do you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia? Persons with dementia and their families face special legal and financial needs. At The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from dementia and their loved ones.  If you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia, we can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs.  We can help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits. Please contact The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. in Fairfax at 703-691-1888, in Fredericksburg at 540-479-1435, or in Washington, D.C. at 202-587-2797 to schedule your appointment for a no-cost initial consultation.

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