The call just came in from a dear friend. “Cyndi, Mom has just been rushed to the hospital.” News that breaks my heart as I know it’s the next chapter of a journey for her and her family filled with many ups and downs. Her Mom had was previously diagnosed with dementia, but unfortunately, things have taken a quick turn for the worse.
Oddly enough, that call came just as I was writing this blog and it lined up with what I was writing. My friend had given her Dad one of the caregiving journals we feature on our website, and it has already been a great help to him. What lies ahead is a long road where it is essential to be on the same page with everyone else involved.
Assuming everyone will be in agreement and clearly understands all of the elements happening with your loved one can ultimately be your worst nightmare as a caregiver. I don’t see this happening with her family, but I know with many that I've spoken to, misunderstandings and resentments can fester into explosive arguments or at the least, additional unnecessary stress for the prime caregiver. All of which can be avoided or lessened by having a meeting with everyone whether by phone, in person or email. Additionally, it is also a good idea to keep track of what has happened and what 'to do' and 'not do' as well as where to reach out for help.
Here are a few additional tips:
- Define the roles of everyone involved (who is setting up doctor appointments, setting up food deliveries, clearing up insurance issues, etc.)
- Communication is KEY. If you are the primary caregiver, send out a weekly update to everyone involved. It can be as simple as “Mom’s doing well, no significant changes.” Or, “Mom’s having issues with the caregiver, and I am unsure of what to do. Any thoughts?”
- Be open to hearing others suggestions, but know it is ok to moderate those. Situations can arise where some of the people involved are on a negative cycle of what is happening but don’t offer up suggestions. I encourage you to be tactfully truthful in your response to them.
- Be open to new ideas. Whether it is transportation, medications or caregiving, an open mind is best.
- Concerns should be noted and discussed with your loved one's doctor. DO NOT hesitate to ask questions and go into doctor visits with your loved one. A great way to get ‘permission’ from your loved one to do so is; “Mom, I’m not sure I understand everything that's going on. I know you do, but would mind if I went in with you next time? I want to make sure I’m clear….”.
- Seek out support groups. Being able to talk about what is happening and your feelings in a 'neutral' atmosphere can be a lifesaver. Join our closed Facebook group or find a local group that you can join. If you're in the area, our bi-weekly walks hosted by our affiliates can be a HUGE help. And you get a bit of fresh air, too! I can guarantee you from personal experience that being able to speak to a group of like-minded individuals will throw you a life preserver.
Most importantly, take care of YOU.