What Happens When The Caregiver Needs A Caregiver?

Too often the caregiver doesn’t think about this scenario of becoming ill until it happens. At that time it’s really too late and way too stressful to deal with arrangements that need to be made. Caregivers need to think about the possibilities when they can think clearly, weigh their options, and plan with less stress. Here are some pointers in making plans in case such a scenario/sickness/incapacitation comes your way!

1) Develop an emergency contact list if you haven’t already. This should include doctors’ names, addresses, & phone numbers; the people who hold Powers-of-Attorneys and Health Care Proxies names & phone numbers for the both of you. This should be posted on your refrigerator (that is the place that emergency personnel look primarily for important information).

2) For each of you make a list of medications with amount, dosage, and time of day taken; likes and dislikes in food, dress, activities, music, or TV in case someone has to step in.

3) Possibly enlist the help of a Care Manager if there is a local agency that provides this. In the Rochester, New York area we have Fingerlakes Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute 585-244-8400 (844-249-7126). It is their role to help you plan steps to take in your future.

4) Have a family meeting preferably in-person (or by conference call) to brainstorm caregiving ideas should an unforseen incidence arise. Sometimes if there are family members who are in denial about their loved-ones health status, it may be more impactful to have another person (a care manager, a financial advisor, your lawyer, therapist, etc.) chair the conversation so that the needs of both parties are spelled out in a more forceful or direct manner. Many times when someone other than family is in in charge of the meeting and the question is put to them,  “What will you do if ‘Carol’ is too ill to orchestrate care for herself and for ‘Jim’, they take it more seriously and positive progress can be made.

5) Experiment with various agencies who offer respite/help at home/companion services so you can hopefully find a good match for your loved-one so you can have some stress free time to yourself. In the Rochester-Fingerlakes area of New York our Alzheimer’s Association offers grant money for 10 hours monthly of respite through contracted agencies in our area. Once the initial intake information is documented by the Association, you can call the contracted agencies for respite assignments. I urge all families to take advantage of this service before you are totally stressed so that you and your loved-one are used to the people coming into your home. For those in other parts of the country, call your local Alzheimer’s Association to see if they offer similar respite options.

6) Finally, also consider looking into respite care possibilities away from your home offered by local nursing homes for the purpose of taking a vacation/rest without caregiving. Usually they are available for at least a week, but check your local nursing homes for their requirements. It is difficult to think about this, but some people with dementia do quite well under such circumstances. It’s almost like they are getting a vacation from you, just as you are getting a vacation from them.








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