Understanding a Dementia Diagnosis
See our Caregiver Calendar for upcoming class dates and locations

Being a caregiver for someone with a memory issue or a dementia diagnosis presents its own unique share of challenges both mentally and physically.
Do you often ask yourself why your loved one:

  • Forgets simple things but seems so “normal” at other times?
  • Argues over what seems so obvious?
  • Constantly asks to go home when they are home?
  • Follows you around and asks so many questions?

Why do they give you a hard time when you are only trying to care for them?

Our Understanding A Dementia Diagnosis class instructor Dr. Debra Hagerty DNP, RN, NHA, FACDONA, assistant professor at GA Southern University Armstrong campus, explores the probable progression, treatment, and prognosis of dementia.  Additional time will be allotted for questions, discussions, support and learning from Dr. Hagerty and caregivers who understand the stress of your situation.

If you have attended this unique class in the past but still have questions or are perhaps at a new stage with your loved one, you are more than welcome to attend as often as you feel necessary. We look forward to having you join us!

While this is a free class, we do ask for and accept donations. Please register in advance by calling 912.629.1331 or by e-mailing Jill at JCostello@EdelCaregiverInstitute.org with your name and contact information.  Thank you.


Palliative care, (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tive) is specialized care for the treatment of symptoms caused from life limiting or chronic illnesses such as CHF, cancer, COPD, dementia, HIV, kidney disease, or others.  Symptoms which can be managed include pain, agitation, anxiety, shortness of breath, depression, nausea, sleeplessness, or loss of appetite.

The palliative care physician doesn’t replace but instead works alongside the managing physician to provide a continuum of care to more aggressively manage symptoms and review medications to provide comfort, thereby improving the patient’s quality of life.  Think of the palliative care physician as the symptom management specialist.

Dementia has a progressive and unpredictable course, causing difficulty in accurately recognizing the terminal phase; however it can be noted by an increase in frequency of infection, impairment, and disability often exhibited through dementia-related behaviors.  For a person living with dementia unable to communicate verbally, seemingly “irrational” behaviors can be signs of distress.

While the dementia itself is rarely the cause of the distress, it is that which prevents the patient from identifying the source of pain.  Their impaired communication includes difficulties with recall, perception of sensations, and verbal expressions.  If a person living with dementia is exhibiting changes in behavior, the tendency may be subjecting them to demanding or inappropriate interventions and medications.  The palliative care physician can help determine if pain is a factor and instead focus on the root of the behavior.

By implementing palliative care, the patient and family gain not only an alliance with a new, aggressive approach to symptom management, but also gain a team of experts who can help with resource navigation, emotional, spiritual, and caregiver support.  This more complete healthcare approach is proven to decrease visits to the ER and to reduce hospital re-admissions.

Palliative care is as much about assisting the family as treating the patient.  The holistic approach of clinical, psychosocial, social, and spiritual care includes the family and care support system.  Focus on comfort empowers families to take a proactive instead of reactive role in caregiving together with help in making realistic and appropriate care decisions.

The Steward Center for Palliative Care is a nationally recognized model which sets the gold standard for excellence in the provision of palliative services in our community.

Please allow us to help you add life to your days by calling 912-354-8014.
Providers may fax referrals and medical records to 912-355-1260.