Remember the road trip games you used to play on family vacations? Connect the Dots was a favorite because it was always a surprise to see the picture at the end! And so it often goes when we find ourselves caring for a loved one for the first time. Knowing some key steps in the process will help you see the “big picture” more clearly!
When Mary learned that her husband of 56 years was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she was faced with the reality that John had a terminal disease that is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States*1!
Most individuals facing situations like Mary, experience typical symptoms of grief – and in no particular order. Shock leads to denial, then to fear and anger or depression with many questions, eventually leading to acceptance. This journey leaves both feeling very disconnected with life as they knew it!
Mary had questions about the disease’s progression and concerns about how she would be able to care for John, given her own health issues. How would they be able to pay for his care and would there be money left for her?
Once needs are identified, the next important step is to assess the cost, considering available resources. Care-giving is a full time job, averaging 41 hours a week with the stress and worry of caring for a loved one often propelling them into a downward spiral of health*2. Understanding your role and limitations as a caregiver is critical – and no one needs to feel guilty! As my mother used to say – “all you can do is all you can do!”
Talk to your family and your doctor about care and treatment, safety, and quality of life concerns including the need to feel connection and purpose. Discuss what may work for your personal situation and according to your preferences. Address financial and legal concerns about decision-making and protecting assets to stretch available dollars.
Taking inventory, setting goals, getting organized and creating a plan can give individuals a sense of control in a difficult situation. Educating yourself about available resources and getting help when you need it can make all the difference! This journey will be unpredictable at times, but remember to stay connected to what matters most. Practicing the eight laws governing healthy care-giving can make all the difference!
- Sustain compassion.
- Retain healthy skepticism.
- Learn to let go.
- Remain optimistic.
- Be the solution.
- Embrace discernment.
- Practice sustainable care.
- Acknowledge success.
*1 www.alz.org *2 Evercare Survey in partnership with the National Alliance for Care-giving (NAC)
To learn more, Strohschein Law Group is offering a free “Lunch N’ Learn” program – The Caregiver Tool Box – on Thursday, July 14th from Noon to 1 PM at our office location: 2455 Dean Street, Suite G, St. Charles, Illinois 60175. Give us a call to confirm your spot at 630-377-3241!