Welcome to Memory Care Support’s
June 2016 newsletter!
Doing It All Yourself
I got a call from a daughter asking me to see her parents and help establish a plan of care for them. She didn’t know the exact diagnosis of her mother, but told me that it was her father she was most worried about. “He’s doing everything – trying to prepare the meals, do the laundry, clean the house and take care of my mom, all by himself.”
I called to set an appointment, but after a couple calls and no answer to my phone messages, the daughter asked me to just stop by the house. Her dad answered the door and invited me in, apologetic for not having the time to respond to my calls….
We hear and read about caregiver stress everyday, but John’s obvious fatigue and distress made it very real for me
As we started to talk, John sat himself in a big chair and sighed. For a moment I thought he was going to cry when I asked him “how are you doing?” but the next minute he was up, out of the chair, going to check on what his wife was doing in the back of the house. And that is how the entire visit was, John up and down every few minutes from the chair, checking on where Marie was. “Last week I got distracted and left her alone for a while, she got all her jewelry out and broke several pieces trying to put them on.”
Putting together a care plan to support John and Marie will take a few weeks and it will evolve as their needs change. But there is some urgency in starting to get assistance for John as soon as possible.
Who’s on your team?
John started off by saying that his wife had always done everything – until a couple years ago, she had managed the house, raised their children, helped out with community charities and also managed their travel and busy social life. Now it was his turn…
But John is finding out it’s almost impossible to care for a loved one with dementia by yourself, you really need a team!
Even when many of us had heavy responsibilities as parents to young children, we didn’t try to do it alone – we had our team. Some of the people on our team included teachers, coaches, family members, spouses, babysitters and good friends, all of whom helped and guided us as parents. We were still the primary caregiver, but we had experts we could consult with and turn to for support.
Action steps for putting together a team
If you are caring for someone affected by dementia, here are some action steps you can take to build your team to guide and support you:
- First step is realizing that it is not in the best interest of your loved one affected by dementia, nor in your good interest, to try to “do everything” yourself. You can’t be the expert in all things and there are good resources out there. Realize it is OK to ask for assistance.
- Be thoughtful about what your needs are – do you need help with direct care, or is it with financial assistance to help pay for care, or is it assistance with home maintenance and repairs, is it help with daily meals, or is it temporary help so you can get away for a few days? Take time to think about what would be helpful and clearly write out your needs prior to looking for resources.
- Have a realistic discussion with other family members and close friends – even though you may appear that you are “handling everything”, it is likely that others are aware of your situation and perhaps don’t know how to offer help or what is needed. If you don’t have family nearby, a scheduled conference call can be useful to update everyone and discuss your needs.
- Investigate local resources – Local resources may include Adult Day Care, Senior Centers, Alzheimer’s Association, Geriatric Care Managers and support and volunteer groups.
Local Senior Centers can be a wealth of information – there may be Social Workers who can assist you in applying for financial assistance. There may be volunteers who will do shopping or other errands. There may be daily activities that you and/or your loved one can participate in. There may be classes such as exercise and stress management which are beneficial for your health.
Support Groups – I can’t say enough about how valuable these groups are. Caring for someone affected by dementia is a rewarding but arduous job. What you’ll learn from the other members of a Support Group is priceless!
- Review your Family Trust and Advanced Health Care Directives with an Elder Law Attorney.
- Begin to visit and interview other care options/locations. Even though your plan may be to always provide care at home, it is important to explore all your options. If an emergency occurs, such as a sudden change in your health or the health of your loved one, you would have to make care decisions without any prior information. Visit nearby Assisted Livings that offer Memory Care as well as interview Home Care agencies for future reference.
The Care Plan for John and Marie is still evolving and out of love for his wife, John sees the value in building a strong team to help support them.
If you work in Assisted Living and want
To make your dementia care program even better,
Or if you need assistance in
Planning care for a loved one,
E-mail or call me for a free consultation.
Anne Ellett, N.P., M.S.N.
AANC Certified Gerontological Nurse
Founder, Executive Director - Memory Care Support
Ph. 949 933-6201