Elder care is not one-size-fits-all. There are a wide range of different needs for seniors, from simple help with travel to extensive, around-the-clock medical support. Fortunately, more and more experts are working to accommodate many different needs, providing the ideal fit for residents that preserves individuality and freedom as much as possible.
One particular strand of elder care that has received more focus in recent years is support for those with cognitive ailments–like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Residents with these memory challenges face particular vulnerabilities. Even the more all-encompassing caregiving options (like a move into a nursing home) may not provide the best fit for these residents. The need for solid elder care planning is particularly important for those at risk of dementia, to ensure that proper care is available if necessary. Unfortunately, many do not identify their condition until it is too late.
But how do you know if you are at risk of dementia?
Interestingly, researchers are working to answer that question now, coming up with ways to identify the signs far earlier, giving resident more time to prepare.
Earlier Dementia Diagnosis
As discussed in a Scientific American article, a definitive diagnosis for a condition like Alzheimer’s used to require a brain autopsy. However, advances in brain imaging have allowed professionals to examine the brains of living patients more closely. The signs of dementia, like plaque and brain tangles, can be spotted earlier.
Researchers are now taking the improvement to the next level, beginning clinical trials to examine brains and, hopefully, identify the signs of Alzheimer’s years before the symptoms actually appear. The ultimate goal is for the general tests to be added to the list of diagnostic regimes that all residents of a certain ask are counseled to take.
These developments are good news for all local residents. The earlier the identification of cognitive ailments, the better chance that there will be time to put an elder law estate plan in place to prepare for whatever the future holds.
But the possible benefit involves more than just planning. It may also help guide experts toward a cure. As it currently stands, the dementia is usually only identified when it is too late for any drug treatments to work. However, if the signs can be spotted years before symptoms appear, then drugs may be able to help fight back against the nerve cell damage in the brain, prolonging one’s life free of the condition.