Loved ones with dementia need a patient advocate

It's the circle of life. Our parents take care of us when we're young and we take care of them as they grow older.

One way to do that is to be their advocate when it comes to medical care.

Kathy Stewart is a Seattle-area nurse and author of the book Mom's Losing Her Memory and I'm Losing My Mind! She says this is especially important if your mom or dad has Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia.

"No one really sees the injury in their brain and what they can and cannot do, so families have to step in when they're going to the doctor and share what's real and what's not," she said.

Stewart believes it's important to be there, round the clock if at all possible, when a family member with dementia is in the hospital.

"You want to make sure that they're telling the physicians and the other health care professionals what's real," she explained.

You need to tell the medical team, that your loved one has dementia and some of the things they say may not be correct.

From personal experience, I can tell you that taking on this role of patient advocate can make a huge difference and prevent life-threatening mistakes.

The Alzheimer's Association has a 24/7 Helpline at: 800-272-3900.

More info: Stages of Alzheimer's Care