Why a Dementia-Focused Practice?
One of the most overlooked focuses in our industry is a Dementia-Focused Practice. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is believed that more than 9 million Americans live with some form of dementia. Now, you may be asking yourself, why should someone enter this field of law? To cut it short, dementia waits for no one. It does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, religion or socio-economic status. If you were to combine all forms of Dementia, the disease would be the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and stroke, in high-income countries.
You may be thinking, yeah dementia affects millions every year, but why should dementia planning be treated any different than planning for anyone’s final chapter? The answer is the sheer number and extent of challenges facing the person suffering from dementia. Depending on the stage of the disease, families and caregivers; their professional advisors, such as their attorney, are sobering.
There are many decisions an individual makes when preparing for the final chapter of their life. If you add dementia into the mix, these decisions and the weight that comes with them can be overwhelming. This is where the Dementia-Focused Practice comes in!
In terms of a Dementia-Focused Practice, the question isn’t: “What happens when someone dies?”, it is “What happens if they do not die and need long-term care?”. Depending on the diagnosis, the care and decisions being made can look incredibly different. Everyone throughout all levels of the practice is dedicated to helping persons with dementia and their loved ones navigate through all stages of the disease process. An person working in this focus will ensure the client and family have access to appropriate legal services, medical services, social services, and support.
A firm who specializes with clients who have dementia need to make sure their practice is physical designed and decorated to create a comfortable atmosphere. For example, not having an overly busy or cluttered space, such as waiting areas and meeting rooms. Providing employees with easy-to-read name tags and making sure lighting is not too bright or too dim. When interacting with a client who has dementia, it is best to use person-first language. What this means is you need to put the person before their diagnosis. Instead of saying patient or dementia affected, label them as a person with dementia. Describe their care living home as a community rather a facility or nursing home. Would you rather live in a community or a facility?
When talking to a person with dementia, it is best to play by the 90 Second Rule. It can take up to 90 seconds for a person with dementia to process and respond. Another important note is to make sure the list of resources you give to clients have several dementia-focused resources. If you do not currently have any on your list, now is a great time to create a partnership. There is a plethora of ways your firm can focus on dementia, whether it be personalized written care plans, dementia-focused coordination and dementia-focused management. It is helpful to have dementia-focused staff dedicated to these disciplines when offering such services!
Remember in the end, it’s not just that Dementia-Focused Practices want to help clients be prepared for a possible diagnosis. These practitioners truly see the need for people with dementia to have some form of relief knowing that they are prepared, if the day comes.