Caring for a parent, spouse or another family member with dementia isn’t easy, and it’s even more complicated if your loved one is living with dementia PLUS another chronic illness, like cancer or diabetes. In this short blog we will offer some tips for how to manage the practical day-to-day things, as well as the emotional impacts of a situation like this as well as where can you find help here in the Round Rock, Texas area.

The Unique Challenges of Caring for Someone With Both Dementia and a Chronic Illness

If you’re caring for a loved one with both dementia and another chronic illness, you know how challenging it can be. And, you are not alone. Nearly 7 million American adults are living with dementia and that number is expected to increase in the next few years. By 2030, adults 65 and older are projected to make up 20% of the U.S. population. As the number of older adults rises, so will the number of diagnoses of dementia and other chronic illnesses.

A chronic illness is physically and emotionally demanding on its own for patients and caregivers, but add dementia into the mix and the experience can be heartbreaking. What do you do if your loved one forgets that they have cancer or another chronic illness? How do you tell them, and what if you have to tell them over and over again? How do you make them comfortable with frequent doctor visits?

Following are some practical suggestions and resources for how you might handle these challenges.

How to Create a Care Plan for Both Dementia and a Chronic Illness

1. Work With Your Loved One’s Care Teams

Assume a collaborative relationship with your loved one’s care team from the start. Make sure they know that you’re interested in what’s going on and are willing to be involved with every step of the process. Keep in mind that you might not be legally privy to all information, so it’s a good idea to obtain a power of attorney if your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia. As dementia progresses over time, the individual will lose their ability to make decisions. That’s why obtaining a power of attorney for yourself or another trusted person sooner rather than later is critical.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions and Take Notes

When you’re with the care team, don’t be afraid to speak up. Ask any questions you may have and voice any concerns. It’s better to have all the facts than to be held back by a fear of looking stupid. Speak up for your loved one.

3. Know What to Expect

Dementia and other chronic illnesses are difficult to talk about, but knowing what to expect will make things more manageable for you, your loved one and the entire family. It’s best to be prepared for memory loss and other cognitive difficulties, illness symptoms, side effects from chemotherapy, etc. Only by knowing what the future may hold will you be prepared for it.

Look through our Senior Living Guides and Articles and Tips to get answers to common questions about dementia and caregiving.

4. Make a Plan

Making a care plan seems like such a big thing. Maybe that’s why so many families put it off. But don’t you want your loved one to have a say in what happens to them? Figuring things out when they still have the cognitive abilities to do so will ensure that they have that right. A care plan will be different for everyone, but you can start out with a basic plan that covers what different types of medical care the individual will receive, who will be in charge of each task and who will be in charge of caring for them when they can no longer care for themself. You’ll also want to create a caregiver schedule that promotes routine.

5. Be There for Your Loved One

Your loved one will need a lot of emotional support. Living with dementia is hard enough, but add another serious illness to the mix and the emotional toll can be huge. It can be very hard to come to terms with the realities of chronic illnesses. Your loved one will often look to you for emotional support, but can also find it through therapy or a support group.

Related: Celebrating Our Parents With Dementia

Where to find Help for Dementia and Chronic Illnesses in Round Rock, TX

Oncologists in Round Rock

Texas Oncology Round Rock

If you or your parent live in the Round Rock area, look no further. Texas Oncology Round Rock is a local provider of oncology services. They provide cancer care services like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other vital services, well as diagnostic imaging and laboratory and pharmacy services. Most care is provided in an outpatient setting.

Dr. Brian J. Shimkus

Dr. Brian J. Shimkus, a Round Rock oncologist is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin and St. David’s Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Medical College of Georgia and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Diabetes and Endocrinology Providers in Round Rock

Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology

Texas Diabetes & Endocrinology, P.A. was founded in Austin in 2001. Nearly 25 years later, they’ve become known as local experts in diabetes, thyroid condition, osteoporosis, weight loss and hormonal conditions.

Doctors for Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Near Round Rock

Georgetown Pulmonary Associates

Pulmonary disease, formerly known as COPD, is a chronic illness that impacts the lungs. The experts at Georgetown Pulmonary Associates, P.A. (GPA) have been providing care for individuals with pulmonary conditions since 2009. Dr. Esther Fields, Dr. Dominic deKeratry, and Dr. Audrey Nguyen are all board certified Pulmonary and Critical Care specialists. Dr. Fields and Dr. deKeratry both have extensive experience in the performance of a wide-range of interventional pulmonology and pleural procedures. They also offer an in-office, full-service pulmonary function lab, so patients can get necessary lab work done right away, without having to go to another location.

Mental Health Support for Dementia in Round Rock, Texas

Mental health conditions like depression are common in people living with one or more chronic illnesses. If your loved one seems to be having a hard time, encourage them to seek help. 

Kristina Sarkisova, Licensed Master Social Worker, MSSW, LMSW

Kristina Sarkisova is a multicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish) therapist who is passionate about working with people living with chronic illness and/or chronic pain. First-hand experience with health problems inspired her to focus on helping others living with chronic illness or pain.

Integrity Psychology of Austin

Integrity Psychology of Austin is the private practice of Paul Wachowiak, a licensed clinical psychologist with 12 years of experience providing individual psychotherapy for adolescents and adults of all ages. He specializes in promoting well-being and adjustment in individuals struggling with chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer, HIV, chronic pain) and issues associated with aging (e.g. , dementia, loss of function).

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Here are some more doctors in the Round Rock area who specialize in dementia.

Support for Individuals With Dementia and Their Families in Round Rock, TX

The team at Sundara pride ourselves on being different from the rest. While the bigger memory care facilities might seem like the right choice, over time we’ve learned that bigger isn’t always better. That’s why we founded Sundara. We thought it was time for a change.

At Sundara, we believe that smaller is better, and research continues to back that up. Smaller physical environments lead to less confusion and agitation and more feelings of peace and security for individuals with dementia. A smaller team and fewer residents means less stress for residents, as well as a more intimate, genuine experience.

Ready to see the Sundara Difference? Schedule your visit today.