Here's a situation that I bet affects many of my readers and that causes some of you much frustration and angst.
In the beginning of Mom's decline, it was not immediately clear to me that she was losing cognitive function. More and more, after Dad died, she naturally looked to me for help with her decision-making and with her growing problems with daily living.
I had to decide things like: when to intervene forcefully about driving, housing, medical care, etc., and how to make this determination long distance. For me, living half a continent away, this is what it meant: when to hop on a plane, leave my own business and family concerns, and go to herâ€”-and when not to go. It wasn't always easy to determine when my presence was absolutely necessary. As with most of us, there were limited opportunities for me to actually pick up at a moment's notice and go.
So you know what happened, don't you? Often, when I finally arrived to deal with her crisis, the problem remarkably got resolved while I was in transit and my physical presence turned out not to be really necessary. On the other hand, shortly after I returned home, she'd invariably face an issue that really did require me to be there…only, this time, I would not be able to get away again.
I wanted to save my trips for the absolutely essential ones, but how could I know in advance? How indeed? There was nobody but me, her only child and next of kin. Who could advise me? I needed partners to assist me.
In a future post I'll share the good news and the bad that resulted from my search for a local assistant.
Long distance caregiving is a difficult proposition. Obviously many of the solutions require the financial means such as having the person you're caring for live in an assisted care facility. These housing options provide assistance to the resident, but isn't at the level of nursing home care although many have gradations of care available.
Geriatric care managers are a wonderful solution because they are available when you're not. They can be an advocate for the care receiver or somone who expedites solutions. They are paid by the hour so for the cost of a plane ticket you may get some peace of mind. For other resources check the Area Agency on Aging in her area and see what services are available in her region. If she has been a part of a church having a conversation with their outreach ministry may be one additional means of support.
Dementia will only progress over time. The more safeguards you can put in place early, the more peace of mind you'll receive.
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