Updated: May 4
Much of Dementia care boils down to anticipating and planning for challenges you will face.
As a first step, the person or persons responsible for a loved one's care must have the legal right to do so. Legal permission involves becoming the designated power of attorney (POA), or under certain circumstances, the conservator and guardian.
The amount and type of long-term care your loved one needs is one of the first decisions you and your family will make.
Concerning home care, who will be the primary caregiver? What happens if it becomes neither realistic nor safe to shoulder caregiving responsibilities alone? Is the next step hiring a paid caregiver? Is the paid caregiver one that you hire or one contracted through a home care service? What are the criteria that make it necessary to transition your loved one from home to an assisted living facility?
Some individuals fervently believe they will be his or her loved one’s caregiver throughout the illness. However, as is often the case, circumstances change. Therefore, you must anticipate and plan for modifications in the type and amount of care your loved one may eventually need.
Research the options before you need them!
Contact your friends to discover if they know of a reliable caregiver or affordable homecare support. Look into non-profit organizations that provide various types of home care services. Visit assisted living facilities, speak with the director, ask about the services included in their monthly fees, view their inspection reports, and tour the facility. Learn the differences between a continuum of care, independent living, assisted living, and memory or dementia care. Become familiar with the steps you must take before you can place your loved one in an assisted living facility.
It may be months or even years before you come to this cross-road. However, doing your homework will minimize the time and stress of needing to take, often on short notice, this big step.
Developing the “what, if then, or buts” of medical care is another feature of a long-term care plan. Will your loved one receive care from his or her family doctor or a Dementia care specialist? Research palliative and hospice care to be sure that preconceived ideas do not color your views. Learn about the purposes for palliative and hospice care, the best time to initiate them, and how they impact quality-of-life and end-of-life care. These last decisions are prone to family conflict and long-lasting feelings of ill-will.
A long-term care plan includes funeral arrangements as well as various estate considerations. It’s not ghoulish to plan for the funeral. Cremation, embalming with or without embalming fluid, and burial location – are a few of many examples of the difficult and emotional decisions families make.
Prepare yourself for the eventual transition from caregiver to representative of the estate. What are the responsibilities and the steps you must take to close the estate?
A long-term care plan helps families navigate the challenges that dementia care presents. Be sure to frequently review, update, and revise your loved one’s long-term care plan.
Contributor: Janet Yagoda Shagam, Ph.D., is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through Amazon.
The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of the content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org