It’s pretty clear (from tests) that I’m headed for a major dementia. What can I do to “plan” the rest of my life so that I and my family can live with it?

I’m sorry you’ve had this medical news from what I assume is a competent neurological exam. More and more people are being diagnosed at an earlier stage of illness. While this is frightening it can also be valuable in that you can help plan (and have a say) in your future care.

If you have not already, get your legal and financial affairs in order. Make sure you have an up to date will or trust and a durable power of attorney for finances given to a responsible person. Also create a power or attorney for health care (sometimes called an advanced directive) to make your medical wishes known.

Many physicians today advise someone in your situation to stay as active as possible. Exercise regularly since we think this is good for the brain. Volunteer in your community to find a sense of purpose. Continue to stay as active socially as possible since the brain loves activity. While research hasn’t proven it helps, I think I’d work on maintaining a healthy diet full of brain rich foods like salmon and blueberries.

You should also consider joining a support group in your local area for early-stage persons. These support groups are just for individuals like you; they give you a chance to network with others for mutual support and education (online support groups are also available.)

I hope you make the most out of your next few years and get the help you need to lead a quality life. Thanks for writing in.

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