In life’s ups and downs, one gut wrenching and shocking event is when a family finds out that a parent or other close relative needs help. Older persons have the uncanny ability to hide the fact that they can no longer take care of themselves. When reality hits the power of attorney or others designated to help in times of family crisis, families can fall apart or come together.
If Mom or Dad have been showing signs of decline in ability to cook, bank, take meds properly, bathe, do laundry, clean house or otherwise, family should start making plans and discuss those steps with Mom and Dad. However, it is imperative that steps for care be implemented respectfully and with understanding.
The loss of ability to care for self is a gradual process and those experiencing inability to drive safely, keep a clean house, balance a checking account, keep bills paid, etc. will find ways to hide the facts. No one ever wants to admit to themselves or others that something could be amiss and that help is needed.
Persons with power of attorney often feel guilt for not being able to detect the inadequacies of the loved one until there is a crisis such as hospitalization, a car accident or a fall. It is counterproductive to live in regret. Go forward by engaging with health care professionals, social services and other entities to set up the best plan for that person.
In any incident in which unusual, erratic or neglectful behaviors are present, a determination must be made to insure the loved one is safe and well cared for. That requires a meeting of the minds of the family, health care professionals and social services.
Consideration must first start with a complete health assessment with a head to toe physical evaluation. Infections, blood flow issues, diseases such as dementia, thyroid, heart, liver or kidney can be responsible for depression, forgetfulness and cognitive decline.
Persons with dementia or hearing deficits are extremely adept at glossing over what they don’t understand. For instance, a person is given instructions for proper dental care. That person may roll their eyes and say, “that’s stupid” rather than ask the instructor to repeat.
Persons with declining cognitive skills can be embarrassed easily, because self esteem declines with the skills. Therefore, there is a need to convince others that there is nothing wrong with them. Pride needs to be protected. Never berate the person, but first agree, then guide the person to accept the right way to proceed.
In other words, when a woman gets lost and can’t find her way home. The police locate her driving the wrong way on a one-way street. After putting her through the usual test, she is ticketed and released to her family. The car is impounded and eventually returned, and the family is advised to find a way to find other transportation for Mom. The family makes appointments with health care professionals and extensive physical and mental tests are done. While searching for financial information, the power of attorney found that Mom had lost the ability to balance her checkbook and it soon became apparent that she had become a victim of fraud. Her finances were in a mess and she had about a year left in which to take care of rent, food and other necessities. All the years before, Mom had reported that she had set up college funds for her grandchildren. There were no accounts set up anywhere for anyone.
For help in setting up a plan to take care of someone in need, become proactive first with the health care professionals, the social services, and the state licensing bureau to start making a plan. Do all of this with respect, keeping the loved one involved in making the plan.
Creating the Dynamic Dementia Care Team and Memory Path Care Solutions by Clarice Cook are available in print at Amazon.com and in download audio at Audible.com