034: The Dynamics of Dementia with Dr. Michelle Dhanak

Dementia is a prevalent disease in our society, our country, and throughout the world. Even though millions of Americans are living with dementia, families are often in the dark. They don’t understand the impact on their loved ones, and they don’t know what’s coming as the disease progresses. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but most people just don’t want to face them. The problem with that is, by the time acute care is needed, it’s too late to plan appropriately, according to the wishes of the person suffering, which makes it harder for everyone.

Joining Kirsten in the studio is Dr. Michelle Dhanak of ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine. Michelle has an extensive background in addressing complex medical and psychosocial issues in older individuals, and her unique focus and expertise in dementia and agitation have had a significant impact on improving care systems for challenging patients. Michelle believes that all older adults who are suffering deserve to live out the rest of their lives with dignity, respect, and self-efficacy.

Throughout this episode, Kirsten and Michelle dive into what dementia really is, the different types, and how it impacts not only the person living with it but the loved ones who are making decisions and caring for that person.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the brain changes associated with dementia may begin 20-plus years before symptoms start appearing. It’s scary to know what could be happening in our heads. This episode is full of insights on how to plan and manage this difficult disease, so listen in and share it with your friends.

Big Three from Episode #034:

  1. Families need to take the time to prepare for what to expect.
  2. If possible, don’t wait to plan and make decisions. Include the person who is diagnosed with the disease so they can decide what they want to happen.
  3. Ultimately, we all want the person with dementia to age in place and live out the rest of their life as comfortably as possible.

Time-stamped Show Notes:

4:23 – What happens at the end of life for a person with dementia?

7:39 – This causes 50% of death in people with dementia.

11:20 – What role does hospice play for those with dementia?

15:15 – Michelle discusses how she works with families to prepare for dementia.

19:03 – What are neural psychiatric symptoms?

21:17 – Michelle shares insights on how to choose the right hospice.

25:41 – How do families deal with a new diagnosis of dementia?

29:25 – What is delirium? What is the impact?

33:37 – What should family members and loved ones keep in mind when making decisions for those with dementia?

36:44 – Michelle shares how people get on, and stay on, hospice.

39:30 – Since Medicare covers hospice, does that mean we don’t pay out of pocket?

Resources/Tools/Links Mentioned in This Episode:
https://www.elderconsult.com

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