With my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease progressing, I am planning on talking with my siblings over Thanksgiving about her continual care. How can I organize a plan of care to include the entire family?
The phrase, “it takes a village” is so appropriate in the care of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease. The care takes participation from family and friends and can be highly stressful and cause tension in family relationships.
Families come with a history, which relates to the role each member of the family plays in the caregiving of their loved one. Family dynamics are such that there are characteristic roles in its nucleus. You might be the “Main Caregiver” of your mother; another sibling might be the one who is the family “accountant” and takes care of finances. One family member may be the “decision maker,” especially needed when opinions about care widely differ. Other roles include the “information gatherer,” “the blamer,” and “the one who is blamed for everything.” There’s the “long-distance caregiver,” the “peacemaker” and, even possibly, “the one who sabotages.”
Setting up a continuum of care for your mom is necessary, and it will take a plan of action in organizing what members of the family will contribute to that care. A “long-distance caregiver,” for instance, cannot be present physically for your mom, but he/she could offer financial assistance for paid caregivers, send food or money for groceries and/or prescription medications and so forth. The “information gatherer” could research and make a list of local resources and programs available for your mom, and the “accountant” can make sure all her finances stay in order.
With family dynamics, often there are the negative roles, too. “The one who sabotages,” for instance, can undo preparations for care, or the “blamer” can cast a negative impact on the quality of care for your mom.
The ultimate key to get everyone on the same page is to stress that your mom is the main ingredient. Like a good soup stock, your mom’s care needs added seasonings, such as possible home health to perform activities of daily living, physical or occupation therapy, mental stimulation and exercise, and regular check-ups with the physician.In other words, you need to identify the talents and capabilities of all your siblings and have those compliment your mother’s care.
Hold a meeting with your siblings and those who will assist in caring for your mom. Discuss what each family member can contribute, at what times and what days of the week. Have a calendar and note pad ready and have everyone agree on a suitable schedule of care for your mom. It may be difficult at first, but listing tasks that need to be done or care responsibilities can make your siblings more aware of the stressful side of caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s and the need for shared duties, and thus, make them more sensitive and willing to negotiate a care plan that will be accommodating to your mom and to the whole family.
Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.