Your elderly mother was recently diagnosed with dementia, and you can see the disease changing her with each passing month. Because mom still lives on her own, you’d like to start planning some care for her in the event she becomes incapacitated. Dementia or not, mom has also made it quite clear that she wants to enjoy her freedom and independence for as long as possible. Developing a care plan for mom while she can still be involved in the process should go more smoothly when you take these steps.
Become Her Power-of-Attorney
As your mother’s physical and cognitive abilities continue to decline, at some point she may not be able to make sound medical and financial decisions on her own. One way to ensure that mom’s future needs are met is to become her “durable power-of-attorney (POA)”. Sit down with her and explain why that’s important, and, if she agrees, let your siblings and other immediate family members know.
Then, take mom to meet with a local health department representative or licensed estate planner so you can officially become her POA by filing a legal document called an “advance medical directive”. Doing so will give you both peace-of-mind as her life plays out. For more information about advance medical directives, visit: www.longtermcare.gov.
Devise a Care Plan for Mom
Now that you are mom’s POA, it’s time to devise a care plan that will include the specific requirements she’ll need as her dementia progresses. To make it happen, compile a “wish list” based on these quality-of-life categories:
- Bill paying
- Bathing, toileting and grooming
- Grocery shopping and meals
- Medication reminders and refills
- Making her home safer
- House and yardwork
Once you have your caregiving list, it’s time to assemble a caregiver “team”.
Hold a Family Meeting
If possible, schedule a video chat or conference call with all your immediate family members so you can sit down for a strategy session. Using your caregiving list as a reference, set up a caregiving calendar based on each person’s time availability and talents. At some time in-the-near-future mom will probably need to move out of her home and in with one of you, so plan for that inevitability too. If your mother also included a living will in her advance medical directive, make sure everyone clearly understands her wishes if she’s faced with a life-threatening situation.
Work with Mom’s Doctors
One of the most important aspects of being a medical POA is consistently communicating with your loved one’s doctors. Make sure to accompany mom on all her doctor’s appointments and don’t forget to cover:
- Her advance medical directive and treatment restrictions
- Any prescription or OTC medications that she’s taking. This will go much easier if you bring the medications along with you to the doctor’s office, or compile a list of them including the daily dosages.
- Notes that you keep in a “health journal” about mom’s condition, which should include your observations about her physical and cognitive changes.
- Possible side effects that may be caused by her medications, especially if she is taking something new.
- Any questions you have about mom’s care
Hire Her an In-Home Caregiver
Sadly, there may come a time when your mom needs to be admitted to a long-term care facility to ensure her quality-of-life and safety. But until that day arrives, she may reach a point when 24-hour in-home care is needed in the home. If so, you may want to consider hiring mom a licensed in-home caregiver to fill in whenever you are not available.
Flexible In-Home Care for Families with an Aging in Place Senior
Caring for an aging in place elderly loved one who’s incapacitated is rewarding, but it can also be exhausting at times. When you need a break, contact Caring At Home. As a family owned and operated agency, all our thoroughly screened caregivers are licensed and insured for your senior’s safety and security. It’s always our goal as a well-established agency to serve as an extended family in your loved one’s home so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
From a few hours per month, to 24-hours a day, our reliable caregivers can perform in-home services like light housework, personal hygiene, medication reminders, companionship, and meals planning. We can also personalize an affordable care program based on your needs, so to learn more about Caring At Home, or to schedule a FREE, in-home consultation for that special senior in your life, please contact Caring At Home today!