Are you providing unpaid care for a parent, family member, or other elderly loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s? If so, you are not alone. In fact, there are millions of people doing the same thing you are in America right now. Caring for a loved one is an unselfish and honorable undertaking – and one that can result in your own mental and physical exhaustion if you are not careful. It is very easy to forget your own needs when you are providing care to someone who is suffering the agonizing physical and mental deterioration that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease. Keep in mind, however, that if you completely ignore your own needs your body will eventually rebel and the end result may render you unable to care for your loved one. The Grand Forks elder law attorneys at German Law Group urge you to keep your own welfare in mind as you care for your loved one. The following suggestions may help.
- Educate yourself. Knowing what you are up against, as well as knowing how many others are dealing with the same thing you are can be a great help. For example, did you know that:
- More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s.
- Someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 66 seconds.
- 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people suffering from Alzheimer’s every year.
- In 2016, unpaid caregivers provided over 18 billion hours of care, valued at over 230 billion dollars.
- Set limits and stick to them. You are human and, therefore, there are limits to what you can do by yourself.
- Schedule hours/days off. Everyone needs time to recharge. Schedule this time and make the most of it because you won’t be any good to anyone if you are run down and exhausted. Rest and recharge during your time off.
- Don’t give up your own life. Keep in contact with friends, make plans to do things you like, and don’t neglect other family members. If you devote every minute of your life to caring for someone else, even someone you love dearly, you will eventually end up resenting them.
- Find a support group. They are not difficult to find. Locate one and lean on the people in the group who are going through the same thing you are. The Alzheimer’s Association website offers information on support groups and contact information for additional resources,
- Share the burden. Let other family members and/or friends help by taking over on your “day off” or by cooking dinner for you and your family, for example.
- Hire professional help when needed. Most Medicaid programs will cover in-home professional healthcare services for Alzheimer patients. Take advantage of this opportunity to get some much needed professional assistance.
- Accept the need for LTC when it becomes necessary. It is not a question of “if,” but of “when” long-term care will be needed. At some point it will no longer be safe for your loved one to remain in your home so do not make the mistake of ignoring this eventuality. Start looking into your options early on so when the time comes everyone is prepared.
- Consider petitioning for guardianship. Just as your loved one will eventually need LTC, he/she will eventually be incapable of making decisions or safely living alone. To ensure that you have the continued authority to do what you have likely already been doing (paying bills, making doctor appointments etc.) you will probably need to become your loved one’s Guardian. Because that process can take some time, you should consult with an experienced elder law attorney in your area early on.
Contact Grand Forks Elder Law Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, or about other elder law issues, contact an experienced Grand Forks nursing home lawyer at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.