Be proactive in caring for loved one as life changes

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"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." ― Lao Tzu

Do you read the quotes that I select for my articles? Each time I submit an article I research quotes to find the one I feel will be fitting.

The one I found today is about change. I chose this one because as we age, we are faced with many changes that can be scary: we might no longer be able to drive, or might need to hire home care, or place a loved one in a memory care facility.

These are big decisions, but aging gracefully is about accepting change. It is about realizing that our bodies and minds are not what they used to be.

It is also realizing that we can still make good decisions and embrace the fact that these decisions can help keep us and our loved ones safe. It is about looking at the bright side.

Each and every one of us is going to get older. We can either embrace it or fight it. Why not try and accept change as a good thing?

People who do practice acceptance are happier than those who complain and make poor decisions. Making good choices about safety is a priority. Let's review:

  • What would happen if you, the caregiver, were not around? What would happen if you were in a car wreck, had a serious fall, a heart attack?

Who would take over for you immediately? Who would know that you have a loved one at home with dementia if you were taken straight to the hospital?

Who could be with your loved one for a few hours, days, or even weeks until a family member could come and take over? This would include knowing the names of doctors, medication schedule, and so much more.

And does this person have financial and medical power of attorney to make decisions in your absence?

  • Can the loved one you are caring for call 911? Most individuals with dementia cannot. You, the caregiver, need to wear a medical pendant to be able to summons help in a moment's notice.
  • Is your loved one wandering? Does she have ID on her person?
  • If he became lost, does he know the home address, phone number?

These items are just the tip of the iceberg, just the beginning of a conversation to create a plan that keeps you and your loved one safe. Once these items are in place you will sleep better, I promise.

Other things that need to be done are legal matters. Find a good attorney that specializes in elder law. This is particularly important to do immediately after a diagnosis of any form of dementia.

Don't wait for an emergency. Be smart, be proactive.

If you need help taking that first step, call Memory Matters at 843-842-6688.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. karen@memory-matters.org; mymemorymatters.org

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