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LeBlanc: Forming a caregiving plan

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: November 17, 2013 at 12:53 PM

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Let's think about this for a minute; would you start up a business without a plan? Of course not. The same rule goes with the "job" of caregiving. Please do not jump in head first. Instead, research the disease, set up your support system, and make a plan of action. Sometimes this means you must have a "Plan A" and "Plan B." It's a learning process, like any new undertaking. You may find you even need a "Plan C."

It's an accepted self-evident truth: mistakes will happen, so, when taking on the task of caring for a loved one, you must have back up plans, especially in case something unforeseen happens to you, the main caregiver. It is always the primary caregiver's responsibility to make certain there's always someone to step in when needed. When you're at it 24/7, it's only a matter of time before you get the flu or sprain an ankle, or worse!

Trust me. Trying to heal or recover from your own illness is twice as difficult when you're caring for someone with dementia. All of your attention still needs to go to them. Doctors always tell us, "Sleep is among the best medicines for fighting the flu." Sick or not, extended and healing sleep isn't ever possible while caregiving.

According to Stanford University, 40% of dementia caregivers die from stress-related disorders before their loved ones ever do. This is why it is essential to set up an appointment with an elder law attorney as soon as possible. Explain your situation in detail and then make certain there is someone worthy of taking over as power of attorney and as a health care surrogate.

Remember; there is no time like the present. Something could happen to you today. Hopefully not, but you never know. That's why they're called "accidents."

Also, keep a journal of your loved one's routine and medical history. If someone has to step in, this information will be priceless.

You as a caregiver are of the utmost importance in the life of your loved one. Set up a meeting with your family members and friends and put a plan into motion. Be prepared.

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