We’ve all had it happen. It’s been a bad day, the kids are screaming, the dog gets out and terrorizes the neighborhood, the washing machine overflows, all heck is breaking loose and the phone rings…And it’s your friend on the other end, asking “How’s it going?” You put on your happy face, smile and say…
Alzheimer’s caregivers are famous for wearing their happy faces.
They may have been struggling with the same repetitive question or pacing or wandering for the last hour. But, when someone comes over, or talks to them on the phone, they say everything is “just fine.” And the happy face continues for a while – maybe months or even years – until you just can’t bear it any longer.
Let’s put aside your “happy face” and talk about Alzheimer’s Disease, what it is and how you can take control of your life again. We’ve all heard the saying “Knowledge is power.” That certainly is true when trying to cope with memory loss and Alzheimer’s Disease. But there’s more to it than that.
I want you to be aware of everything there is to know about the disease itself – about caring for your loved one, and about providing that care without emotionally, physically or financially destroying yourself or your family. You need to know about the financial and legal matters you must address.
But if you don’t even know the right questions to ask of doctors, accountants and lawyers, how can you possibly get the right answers? That’s why I’ve laid out a roadmap for you. That’s why I’m going to tell you how to get from “here to there” safely. Here’s how to cope with the memory loss and get to peace of mind.
Stress over things that you Can Control – The largest cause of stress that you have control over is planning. Failure to plan for the future needs of the cared for and the caregiver is an enormous source of stress.
Educate yourself. There are ample resources available by those who have gone through similar situations as yours and from those who have made a career of studying the disease. The more you know, the better position you are in to make good decisions.
Anticipate. Think of what the future needs may be by planning for the contingencies. Do not wait until the last moment to call a nursing home attempting to place a loved one. Many wait because they did not want to face the realities of the situation. Others lack planning because the event that led to the placement in a nursing home was unexpected. Whatever the cause maybe, the answer they will most likely get from the nursing home will not be a pleasant one. Although the need may be now, there may not be a bed available for weeks, months, or even years. Compounding the problem, when you are desperate to place your loved one in a home because you have waited until the last moment, rarely will they be placed in the home that you desire. Putting them in your second, third, or tenth choice will only add to the guilt and stress of the situation.
This is an easy problem to avoid. Although it is an unpleasant future, chances are your loved one will need some sort of additional care. It costs nothing to fill out applications for different programs and homes. When your name comes to the top of the list, a week, month, or years later, you do not need to accept the opening. Even if you do not accept the opening, the name will not be placed at the bottom of the list. It will be kept on the side, like on top, until you are ready. That way, when an emergency occurs, or when it is just that time, placement into a program or home of your choosing is much, much easier.