Planning and Preparing for the Road Ahead
Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can be a challenging journey, not only for the person diagnosed but also for their family members and loved ones. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can seem overwhelming at times, but the more information and support you have, the better you can navigate the demanding road ahead and determine the long-term care options that are best suited to you and your loved one.
When planning for care of a loved one who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s consider these:
- Who will make the decisions when that person is no longer able to do so themselves. This can be a difficult topic to talk about with your loved one, but it is also a very important one. Get their wishes down on paper. This will settle any family disputes that may arise on care or finances. Not everyone thinks the same way and what you think is best for your loved one may not be what they want.
- How will care needs be met? Sometimes family members live too far away to care for their loved ones, or sometimes they are just too busy. Caregiving of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia will turn into a round the clock job as their condition worsens. Communication is important to make sure the caregiver knows exactly what your loved one needs or wants.
- Where will your loved one live? Are they going to stay at their home with a caregiver coming over to help them, or are they going to move into an assisted living facility? If they stay at their own home, how safe is it? How close is the medical center if a problem does arise? In some cases, it may be necessary to relocate the loved one to a facility.
Having a daily routine can really help your loved one and caregiver make sure things run smoothly. Try to keep consistent daily times for activities such as waking up, mealtimes, bathing, dressing, receiving visitors, and bedtime. Keeping these things at the same time and place can help orient your loved one. This makes things easier for both your loved one and the caregiver.
Also, letting your loved one know what to expect helps ease their mind even if they don’t fully understand. This reduces anxiety and helps them settle into that routine. Opening the curtains every morning lets them know that it’s morning while playing soft music in the evening can let them know it’s close to bed time.
Get your loved one involved in what is going on as much as possible. They may not be able to tie their own shoes, but they can put their shoes on. Encourage them to help themselves as much as possible.
If the best choice is to move your loved one to a facility, it doesn’t mean you will no longer be involved in their care. You can still visit regularly and ensure your loved one gets the care he or she needs. Even if you are not yet ready to make that step, doing some initial legwork might save a lot of heartache in the case of a crisis where you have to move quickly. It’s always best to have a plan of action in place for when that time does come.