Friday, Aug 22, 2014
Health

LeBlanc: Snowbirds and dementia


Published:

Are you familiar with the term "snowbirds?" If not, as a Florida resident let me inform you that this is how we refer to our winter dwellers. In other words, when people spend their summers up north and their winters in our warm Florida climate, they are snowbirds.

For snowbird families that include a person or persons with dementia, what was once a pleasant way of life can quickly deteriorate and become quite complex. Relocating twice a year with this loved one will, more likely than not, generate a whole slew of behavioral problems.

Once the disease advances into the moderate stage or even farther, these back and forth moves become extremely difficult to deal with. The time will come to put personal plans aside and face the sad fact that things just cannot be like they used to be. Sacrifices have to be made.

Recently, I was approached by a man who told me that his wife doesn't recognize what house she's in anymore. Kindly but firmly, I explained that the time has come to make a life altering decision; where is it that they want to spend their remaining years?

This judgment shouldn't be based solely on the weather. Instead, it should be determined by where there is the most support. Whether it's family or friends, up north or down south, go where there are people who sincerely want to help, and I mean for the long haul. As the caregiver, making certain that assistance is in place should be your first priority. It's a difficult thing but, as human beings, sometimes we need to put our pride aside and face the fact that we can't do everything ourselves.

Changing doctors is another thing that is very difficult for the patient. Finding healthcare professionals that truly understand dementia can be difficult, so add this to your list of priorities when choosing a place to put down roots.

Take a deep breath, step back and look at the big picture. Decide what's best for both you and your loved one. The overall climate and where the best golf courses are should be at the bottom of the list.

As you can see, Alzheimer's and relocating just don't go well together. Weigh your choices and make the best decision you can. In the long run this will pay dividends when your loved one stays calm and peaceful.

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