My Mamo (grandmother) is no taller than 5’ tall. She has 11 children (4 girls and 7 boys) and over 50 grandchildren/great-grandchildren and counting… She is loved by so many and is the pillar of her family. Yet, she wouldn’t tell you any of this. She has Alzheimer’s Disease, and doesn’t recognize most of us anymore.
Many people are affected in some way by Alzheimer’s Disease, and yet no one can truly prepare for what is to come. I know I couldn’t (and still can’t). Here are the things I wish my family would have known from the beginning…
The disease isn’t instantaneous.
Be aware of the signs of declining cognitive ability. Early detection gives family members the ability to ask their loved one questions about wishes on how the different stages of dementia look. For example, who are the decision-makers when your loved one can no longer make decisions? Are her/his estate plan documents updated to document those wishes?
There is a business side to the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association has INCREDIBLE and vast resources for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caretakers and loved ones. This is the best place to start in organizing the ‘business side’ of the Disease. Do you know the costs associated with Alzheimer’s and the documents you need to track down? Download this free Estate Planning Memo.
It is okay that plans change once the disease progresses.
The best laid plans…often go awry. Life changes, and dementia is brutal, and Alzheimer’s specifically is a cruel disease. The priority must always be to protect your loved one’s safety. While almost everyone wants to age gracefully in their own home, sometimes that isn’t an option. Caretakers need to give themselves permission to make the best decision they can at the time. Do you know what options are available as it relates to memory care?
Make memories that you will cherish.
It is hard to be a family member (daughter/son/grandchild) … really, really hard.In late stages of Alzheimer’s, no matter the relation to the person with the disease, it is hard to stay present. Your loved one likely will not recognize you or understand why you’re in his/her ‘home’. However, don’t stop visiting. It may be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life, but it is your loved one. Make memories that you will cherish because someone must remember the precious time you have with them.
*Interested in ensuring your family knows what to do if you receive a life-changing diagnosis? Use the resource below to document who the important professionals are and where to find the important documents. Give a copy to your family members who will take a role in your care plan to ensure everyone understands the business side of your life and can focus on what truly matters.
For more information on Certification in Care Management, click here.