Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is a tremendous undertaking, but it is a challenge that is every bit as noble as it is difficult.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that involves memory loss, diminished problem-solving skills, and erratic behavior. Symptoms worsen over time and there is no known cure. Unfortunately, a person with Alzheimer’s lives just four to eight years on average after a positive diagnosis. Depending on certain factors, they can live as long as 20 years. In any case, providing care often involves asking for help. This is a key point Alzheimer’s advocates impart every June during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.
No one can care for another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and many care issues are beyond even the most committed family caregiver’s scope of knowledge. For example, crafting a legally sound durable power of attorney document can be critical after an initial Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This allows a trusted confidant to make binding decisions on the elder adult’s behalf. It is not, however, something most caregivers are equipped to draft. Similarly, administering specialized health care treatments or making necessary estate planning changings to provide for the elder adult’s long-term care and inheritance wishes are areas where help is likely needed.
Your success as a caregiver can also hinge on self-care. The stresses and demands of tending to a loved one with Alzheimer’s commonly cause exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and other physical and mental health challenges. Asking for help can be the solution to easing these burdens as can taking time for yourself.
Sharing responsibilities with family and friends can help supplement a primary caregiver’s efforts and provide them with much-needed relief. Be realistic with whom you ask for help and in what you are asking them to do. Provide Alzheimer’s educational materials, make a list of needs, and match them with a willing friend or relative’s strengths and schedule. Be clear and plan ahead as much as possible.
When friends and family are unable to fill in caregiving gaps, or if they are simply not an option, consider outside care assistance, such as in-home respite care or outside respite services, in-home companion services, and meal delivery programs. Use an Eldercare Locator to find an Area Agency on Aging near your senior loved one, or contact his or her doctor’s office to inquire about community resources.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is a compassionate sacrifice. Asking for help is often critical to providing the best care possible. Our law office is also available to provide information and guidance about an elder loved one’s legal needs. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.