Caregiver Coping Part 2: Prepare for the Worst

* This is the second installment in a series where we will be discussing some realistic ways that Caregivers can cope with the stresses of care-giving.

None of us like to think about the worst case scenario if we don’t have to.  In fact, most of us who are caregivers think that the worst case scenario has already happened. Isn’t the diagnosis and continued deterioration of my loved one’s mind as bad as it can get? What could possibly be any worse?

Unfortunately, it can get a lot worse. The list of things that could go wrong is long and terrifying: people with dementia can get lost; on foot or driving a vehicle; people with dementia may lose or give away thousands of dollars; people with dementia may be unsafe at home and risk being involved in medication mismanagement, house fires, falls or firearm accidents. As the disease progresses, people with dementia are more and more at risk. Being prepared for what may go wrong is smart, safe and can also be empowering for you as a caregiver.  The good news is that there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent a worst-case-scenario. Don’t wait for something bad to happen – take action NOW!

Where to begin? If you haven’t already read it, take a look back at step 1 – getting educated. Start by learning about what safety risks and dangerous circumstances may exist and then you can get started figuring out how to prepare for and prevent those incidents.

Here are some of the most common safety concerns we see:

  • Driving: Driving is one of the toughest issues for families to talk about, and many people wait too long to bring up the subject with their loved one. We have some excellent videos online that show four different families having the driving conversation with a loved one with dementia. Check those out HERE. Georgia also has several driving assessment centers and the Georgia Chapter can give you information about where to find those. Give us a call at 800-272-3900.
  • Legal & Financial Planning: Again, this is an area where you really need to act right away in order to accomplish the necessary tasks while the person with dementia is still able to understand them. Ensuring that power of attorney forms are signed, copies made and in the right hands and advance estate planning for future healthcare costs have been considered will not only ease your mind now, but prevent you from having to operate in crisis mode in the future. Learn more about what legal and financial affairs you should be considering HERE, and call us at 800-272-3900 to get a listing of elder law attorneys near you, or to ask additional questions.

  • Home Safety: Home safety can include fire safety, fall safety, medication safety, firearm safety and many other items that require a person to be able to exercise good judgement and reasoning in order to be safe. This is especially important to consider if you are caring for a loved one who is still living independently/alone. Take the time to review our Home Safety Checklist and get in touch with us if you have any questions.
  • Wandering – Six in 10 people with dementia will wander. A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Wandering among people with dementia is dangerous, but there are strategies and services to help prevent it. Medic Alert/Safe Return is an ID jewelry program that can help you prepare for a wandering incident and the Georgia Chapter has grant money to help pay for it! Call us and ask how you can sign up: 800-272-3900. Read more about wandering prevention HERE.

Being prepared when a crises strikes is extremely important, but preventing a crisis is invaluable. Get educated on the risks, dangers and ways you can prevent crises now. As always, call us with any questions: 800-272-3900.

 

Stay Tuned! More to come on practical coping mechanisms for caregivers. Next week we’ll take a week off from caregiver coping because we’ll be participating in Georgia’s Annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Day at the State Capitol. For more information, or to get registered to attend as an Advocate, sign up HERE! 

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