Updated 9/12/17

I post daily quick tips on social media. The point is for it to be exactly what it sounds like: a quick and easy “bite-size” chunk of information that will make your life better or easier.

At least, that’s the aim.

This was one I posted this past week:


How Do You Just “Figure It Out”?

I remember being rather impressed with myself as I was making the graphics for this series of quick tips on memory care placement. 1- I figured out how to make graphics! 2- I thought I’d come up with some pretty darn useful stuff!

And then alert reader Jan brought me back down to earth with a great question: “How do you ‘figure it out’ if you’ve never been through this before?” (Raise your hand if you love Jan, too.)

So, let’s ‘figure it out’ together. Watch the video for depth, or read below for skimming.

Five General Areas

There are five general areas deal-breakers fall into:

  • Physical
  • Financial
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual


You have a “bad” body part (back, knee, shoulder, etc).

Why this matters: Dementia is a chronic, progressive condition. People living with it lose their physical abilities over time, ultimately requiring more and more assistance to do things like get dressed, get out of bed, walk, and bathe.

Your loved one is physically larger than you.

Why this matters: “Saving” a fall is a myth. The smaller person trying to prevent the fall gets injured, the falling person often gets injured too, and on top of all that, your loved one then needs someone else to step in and provide the care you’re no longer able to.

You have a chronic condition that isn’t always predictable or stable (IBS, migraines, prone to kidney stones, etc).

Why this matters: Imagine how you feel on your very worst day, when the condition is not in your control. Now add in your loved one having a really bad day at the same time.



You need to work outside the home.

Why this matters: You need to be alert at work, which will be tough if your loved one has a disrupted sleep cycle or you’re so stressed you’re having difficulty sleeping.

Safety is another consideration: Would your parent or partner know what to do if he thought he was having a heart attack? What about leaving a pot on the stove unattended, to the point it caught fire? How about if a stranger came to the door?

Also, is your parent or partner getting enough social stimulation when you’re at work? People living with dementia need to interact with others to continue using their cognitive, social, and communication skills for as long as possible.



Your sibling, other parent, or “kids” are jerks.

Why this matters: These people are part of your parent or partner’s orbit, meaning they’re part of yours too, whether you enjoy it or not. You’ll be seeing them (often in your own home) at holidays and family events. Are they helpful and supportive in the care of your loved one, or not so much?
Everyone is going through a tough time, of course, but this isn’t an excuse for anyone to take it out on you.

You got left holding the bag.

Why this matters: Feeling like the “rotten egg” who got stuck in this situation is not a good place to be. That means you don’t have the support of people around you, and others may have fled the scene because of damage the person living with dementia did to those relationships over the course of a lifetime.



You just can’t.

Why this matters: If you spend most of the time feeling like you’re on the verge of a breakdown, you probably are. It’s hard to enjoy anything in that situation, let alone your marriage, other relationships, and career.

Dementia is hard enough. You don’t added emotional challenges on top of it.



However you want to say it, the message is the same: Your gut is telling you no; your intuition is telling you no; answered prayers are telling you no; all signs point to no. “No” is the common theme here, as in, “no, you shouldn’t be doing this anymore.”
Why this matters: Look at any regret in your life, then remember what your gut/intuition/answered prayers/signs were telling you just prior to making the decision you now regret. Don’t go down that path again.


Figuring it out

1. Use the FAST Scale to help determine where your parent or partner is in the disease process and how long each stage is expected to last. This should give you an idea of deal-breakers related to the disease process itself.

2. Take the Caregiver Burden Scale to give you an idea of where you are now. Go back later as the process accelerates to check for changes.

2. Next, grab a pen and paper, be super honest, and:

a. List your own medical conditions
b. Last time it occurred
c. How long the episode lasted
d. Everything you couldn’t do as a result
Question: Could you physically care for someone when you’re in this state?

a. List your income
b. List your living expenses
c. List your pin money
d. List your savings
Question: Can you afford to not work outside the home? For how long?

Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual
a. Were you born for this? Do you have the heart for it?
b. How’s it impacting your other relationships?
c. Were you the victim of abuse in this relationship? (If so, do you know you don’t have to be a care partner, that there are other options for this situation?)
d. Are you reflecting Who You Really Are in this experience, or is it taking a toll to the point you feel like you’re rarely yourself anymore?
e. Do you have a ride-or-die squad?
f. Do you have buy-in from other people in your life?



-Check your work. Did you answer honestly?
-Double-check your work. Ask a trusted person to verify the accuracy of your answer, adding his or her outside perspective.
-Go pro. Professionals like me can help you figure it all out if you’re struggling.

  • Date it
  • Secure it

This is the document you’ll refer back to when you’ve made a placement decision and are feeling racked with guilt. This is your tangible proof you thought this through, looked at multiple angles, and made a decision while not backed into a corner during a crisis.


Please Always Remember

  • You don’t have to be a wreck.
  • You deserve to sleep through the night.
  • You deserve to feel at peace.
  • You deserve to know you’re doing all you can.
  • You deserve to enjoy your relationships.
  • You deserve to be happy.
  • You’re never alone.

Reach out if you need support or help

Facebook: Dementia Sherpa
Twitter: @DementiaSherpa
YouTube: “Christy Turner Dementia Sherpa”
Email: Christy {at} DementiaSherpa {dot} com

Christy Turner is the founder of DementiaSherpa.com and has enjoyed the privilege of working with 1,123 people living with dementia and their families. Follow on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Content varies across platforms.