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Planning Ahead

Thursday April 26, 2018

The Importance of Planning Ahead for Caregivers

One of the struggles we often hear from caregivers is that it is so hard to plan. It is hard to plan for what life will be like in a year, 6 months, or even next week. Dementia is unpredictable. Things can be fine and suddenly your loved one has a major decline and doesn’t bounce back like he/she always has. Or things are okay with your loved one, but you have a health scare and can’t assist with daily tasks.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind, but it is necessary to plan now while you aren’t in crisis mode. Plan now, educate yourself now, make decisions now, so when something happens, you have a path to follow.

No matter the stage of dementia your loved one is in, things will change. Notice we didn’t say things MIGHT change. Things WILL change. Your loved one’s abilities and needs will change. When? No one knows. It might be tomorrow, next week, 3 months down the road, or a year. But plan NOW for those things. Even if it seems hard, it will be much harder if you haven’t planned at all.

Some things to consider and get you thinking:

If your loved one is currently staying at home with you and does not need much assistance, what will you do when he/she needs assistance? Look into a day program, memory care, or in-home care NOW.
If your loved one is currently attending a day program, what will you do when that program is no longer appropriate for him/her? Look at in-home care, memory care, or nursing home options NOW.
Do you want your loved one to be considered Do Not Resuscitate Status?
How long will money last at this current rate of spending?
How will we afford to pay for the next level of care?

Planning ahead takes “the fear factor” out of making a decision. If you wait until a crisis to start planning, you won’t know how to react, and the situation will be much more stressful. It is not morbid to plan: it is smart. Make a list of in-home care agencies – rate, staff, schedules. Figure out what nursing home care is available – Where are they located? What will it cost? Do staff answer your calls? What is the facility like when you stop by for a visit?

Talk to the experts. Do you have legal or financial questions? Find an elder law attorney. Geriatric Care managers are great resources for a wide array of questions related to placement, behavioral concerns, resources, etc. Also, be sure your loved one has a general practitioner who is well-versed in working with seniors and/or a good neurologist.

By touring facilities, interviewing agencies, and gathering information NOW, you empower yourself with knowledge and choices. You allow yourself the opportunity to make the best decision possible for you and for your loved one. Your future self will thank you.