Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alzheimer's Care: Family Challenges "It is not time yet"

I know several articles have been written and read about this, yet every time we come across a new incident, it has a new twist to it each time.

One of the biggest challenges for Alzheimer's is to convince the caregiver to take help. Nature of the disease is such that the situation is progressively worsening.  progressive and hence you do not observe any visible change on a day to day basis or hour to hour basis. You hear this often " it is not time yet". As the caregivers are living with the loved ones affected by the disease, they often fail to read the situation correctly. In their mind, it is not yet the time to take help.

Driven by a sense of responsibility towards the loved ones and coupled by fact that you are driven from one job to the next without a stop, one fails to see the big picture. The big question is "what should be done?" To start with we have to honor the commitment of the caregivers. They are the true heroes, putting everything else in front of them and putting their own health and interest the last.

Now let us get practical. Does it do anyone any good for the caregiver's health to be affected in the process? Who will take care of the affected one, if something were to happen to the caregiver? Who will take care of the caregiver themselves if their health was affected? Now you have two problems to take care of not just one?

However, try telling all these to the caregiver and you would often hear them reply "true, but I don't think I am there yet".  Well are you sure? Will your physician agree with your assessment? I have dealt with a lot of family members where they are in this no win situation trying to convince their parents to bring in help. Here are some useful suggestions.

Talk to Caregiver's Physicians

Given the wonderful world of HIPPA, the physician may not be able to tell you anything. However, you can be a reporter to the physician. You can tell them what is going on with your dad or mom. The more you can tell them the better. Very often your parents are more likely to listen to their physician than you. Your report to the physician would help them give better advise to your parents. Many times they are not informed fully of the situation.

Change the Game

Do not use the word "help". Given the generation they come from they are very allergic to that term, when it comes to helping themselves. They are very often the first to jump to help someone, yet they would put all excuses and resistance when it comes to taking help. Rather than using the term "help", take the loved ones and subscribe them for day care centers or programs. Arrange ride for them to be taken to the program and back. Make sure the family care giver does not tag along. This is the time the caregiver gets a break.

Create social events. invite friends of your loved ones for lunch and once again arrange for ride to the place and back. The ride actually should be caregiver from a responsible agency. The caregiver from the agency can come pick up your loved ones for the program and bring them back. Similarly get creative to take the loved one away from the family care giver as much as possible. This gives them the opportunity to get much needed rest and recharge their batteries.

Support Groups

Send your family caregiver to as many support group session as possible. Hearing from similar families are much different from hearing from you.

These are just few of the suggestions. You have to be creative and keep trying.

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