“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.”

– David G. Allen

Why do family members wait so long to get help for themselves and their loved one with dementia? I have written about this subject many times.

What made me think of this again? Recently I have had many canceled appointments from caregivers who are in crisis.

Let me explain. I get a call from someone in crisis. An appointment is made.

But, before the meeting happens, I get another call from the caregiver, canceling because everything is “fine.”

I can’t help but wonder what happens between the time the caregiver called in crisis mode and 24 hours later when all is okay.

Time will pass and the same caregiver will call again in crisis. It might be a year before a decision is made to finally walk through our doors.

Too often their loved one is no longer appropriate for our programs, and because the caregiver has not created a solid foundation of support, he or she is dangerously exhausted.

I was talking to my co-worker about this subject, and she presented an interesting analogy. Imagine this: It is pouring rain but the rain is not in the house yet. The caregiver feels secure.

A leak forms and water begins to come into the house but a mop can keep the house dry for now. Then the sun comes out for a day, and there is hope that their loved one is actually improving.

But then it starts raining cats and dogs, and the roof caves in. At this point the caregiver is too tired to make sound decisions.

This is when accidents happen, such as falls, a loved one getting lost, severe medical issues; and many times there is no plan in place for this type of emergency.

Memory Matters can help with resources at the beginning of the journey. Some examples might be helping to find an attorney, safeguarding the home and understanding the importance of having a solid Plan B in place.

Frequently, caregivers do not have the experience to realize they are on a slippery slope.

Sometimes caregivers believe that nothing will happen to them, but something could happen in a split second. Then who would take care of their loved one?

Who knows when he gets his medication? Who knows where the children live and how to call them? Who is her doctor?

Unfortunately for many, it would take a clone to seamlessly “take over” your role, and that option isn’t available anyway. So, caregivers really need a good plan that involves supportive friends or other family members.

Admitting that help is needed is difficult.

Some people feel like failures, but the reality of it is that reaching out for help demonstrates good judgment — it sets the family up for success.

Don’t wait until your roof caves in. Call Memory Matters today for help at 843-842-6688.

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