Caring for a loved one with dementia is a huge challenge. You may be feeling tired, overwhelmed, fearful and exhausted. I can understand that. I experienced the same feelings when caring for my late mum who had vascular dementia.

It’s true you can experience a range of emotions. However, when it comes down to it, one of the best ways to make life more manageable for you and your loved one is to plan ahead.

If your loved one is in the earlier stages of the condition, start thinking and talking about the future. You may feel awkward about discussing future care with your loved one, but it’s a crucial conversation to have early on.

The harsh reality is that the person with dementia will sadly deteriorate over time. At the moment, they may just need help with shopping and housework. As the disease takes hold in the long run, the person will require 24-hour care. When caring for my mum, I would often get frustrated when I heard people talk about “living well” with dementia. I honestly don’t know if you can. My mum’s quality of life changed considerably as her condition got worse. There were fewer things she could do for herself, and the worse she became, the more care she required.

I don’t want to be morbid but on the other hand, I can’t sugar-coat dementia. It is challenging. Start having those awkward yet necessary conversations now. If your loved one is in the early stages of the condition, talk to them now about the type of care they would like to receive in future, and what they would like to happen.

If your loved one is in the mid to late stages, and you need to make decisions on their behalf, then do your research on home care agencies or care homes and have a plan ready.

Don’t put off planning for the future. As a good friend once said to me: ‘You can’t necessarily make your mum happy, but you can do your best to keep her safe’.

Plan, plan, and plan. Even if plans change, you’ll have covered the important stuff. You’ll have found a home or an agency that can help with your loved one’s needs, in order to keep them safe and well cared for.

Here’s some key things to consider:

Have you organised Lasting Power of Attorney?

There are two types: Property & Finance and Health & Welfare. You may still be able to obtain it if your loved one already has a diagnosis but don’t leave it a moment longer. The longer you leave it, the less likely you may be able to get it. Property & Finance means you can manage your loved one’s finances and make financial decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. Health & Welfare means you can make decisions about the type of care and medical treatment they may have in future.

Where will the person live in the long-term?

Would they like to try and stay at home with a live-in carer, or will they go into a care home?

Who will care for the person in the long run?

At the moment, you may be providing basic care such as helping with shopping or housework, but as time goes on the person will need more support. In the later stages of the condition, they will require 24-hour care. Will you be providing that support, or will you be enlisting help? Who will support you if you are the sole carer?

What is the person’s current financial situation?

It’s important to understand the person’s finances so that you can work out what is affordable when their care needs increase. The person may already have Attendance Allowance, but do they have savings, a property and any shares? Seek advice on their financial situation.