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The challenges that caregivers face when attending to the needs of their loved ones with dementia or physical limitations cannot be understated. While every circumstance is different, the responsibilities of a caregiver can often lead to feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and despair.
We all want what is best for our loved ones, but it can be difficult to reconcile our personal sacrifices when ensuring the comfort, care, and safety of those we hold so dear. Below are a few considerations for those who are struggling with the adjustment of caring for someone with dementia or limited mobility.
People living with dementia or physical limitations may struggle with simple, everyday tasks that non-disabled people may take for granted. Routines such as cleaning, cooking, and maintaining bodily hygiene can all transform into hurdles, as someone’s capacity for memory and motor functions begin to change.
Be patient both with your loved one and yourself as you discover the most effective solutions in establishing a daily routine. A little bit of gratitude for your health and motor skills can go a long way in curbing feelings of impatience and frustration. And remember, you are not alone. These negative feelings are completely normal.
Take Opportunities to Build Them Up
Find moments of empowerment whenever you can. Focus on the activities that your loved one is still able to accomplish and celebrate the milestones they achieve. Allow them to answer questions about their condition and advocate for themselves when possible. Plan and organize social interactions with other friends and family as well.
Understand the Toll
Unfortunately, those with dementia or physical limitations may often struggle to adjust to their new reality. Your loved one might struggle to accept that their ability to accomplish certain tasks has been diminished, and their insistence on caring for themselves without the help of others may lead to unintended harm and injury.
Life-altering changes in one’s body are a steep hill to overcome for many people. Compassion and understanding are key in helping your loved ones adjust. Try to avoid scolding your loved ones when they struggle to accept their limitations, even if you feel frustrated or worry about the harm they may cause to themselves.
These changes mark a period of grieving for them and what they have lost. When expressing your concerns, be gentle, yet firm.
Consider Other Options
Many options are available for people whose personal schedules and limitations cannot provide effective long-term care for loved ones with dementia or physical limitations. Outside services such as 24-hour live-in care professionals can help relieve the pressure and responsibilities of caring for a loved one. Also, professionals and specialists are equipped with training and tools you may not possess as an independent caregiver. Sometimes even a small break as a caregiver can make a world of difference.
Not every financial situation is compatible with the hiring of a long-term caregiver. However, research and caregiving training, as well as support groups and helpful, like-minded communities are available to everyone. A little bit of research, even online, can go a long way.
Use Estate Planning Tools
To prepare for any eventuality, it is important to get your legal affairs and documents in order before you or your loved one face life-altering illnesses and limitations. These estate planning documents include wills, powers of attorney, and advance directives.
When it comes to planning for dementia and physical limitations, we recommend you speak with your attorney specifically about your loved one’s Advance Directive. This is an estate planning document that grants the authority of another person to make medical decisions should your loved one become incapacitated and lose the ability to communicate for themselves. A well-drafted Advance Directive will name the appropriate health care agent and leave no ambiguity as to the wishes of your loved one in regards to their long-term medical care.
Caring for a loved one with dementia or physical limitations is enough of a challenge in and of itself for you to also worry about the legal headaches associated with long-term care and medical responsibility if you do not have your affairs in order. Do not hesitate to speak with a professional estate planning attorney regarding whatever the future may hold for you and your family.
At Sessa & Dorsey, we consider the bigger picture at hand and advise our clients on the best estate planning tools for their specific needs and desires. If you have questions about estates and trusts, please contact us at (443) 589-5600.
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