Alzheimer’s Caregiver ASKS The Caregiver’s Voice…
I am the sole family caregiver for my 94-year old mother who lives at home with mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Except for Alzheimer’s, my mother is in excellent physical condition for her age. I am 64-years old, single, an only child, and have no family of my own. How do ensure my mother’s continued care if I am unable to care for her due to illness or premature death? I am in good health but remain concerned. Thank you for your thoughts.
The Caregiver’s Voice replies…
Thank you for your question to TheCaregiversVoice.com and for the additional information (unpublished).
You present a challenge many caregivers face; especially, those in their sixties—that is, how to ensure a loved one is cared for during his/her lifetime. During the 17 years I’ve been involved as a caregiver, expert spokesperson, and author, I’ve seen too many caregivers pre-decease their loved ones. You are wise to be concerned.
There are three options you should initially consider.
- If your mother has assets and receives benefits (e.g., pension, Social Security) you have options such as residential care, assisted living, and even skilled nursing care.
However, only the last two offer hospice care—meaning she’ll be able to remain in the community as her healthcare needs grow.
- Do you and your mother have an estate plan?
Depending on the size of her/your assets, you’ll need to consider drafting a trust, power of attorney, and advance health care directives. If you have not yet created any of these, consult an elder law attorney. This clickable link to NAELA–National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys allows you to search for attorneys in your area. Usually, the initial consultation is free.
- Finally, since distant family is not involved, what about your/her friends and neighbors?
You can arrange for initial care should there be an emergency.
If something happened to you right now and you had no plans in place, what would happen to your mom?
Your mom will likely survive a day or two without you before she starts wandering looking for you. As she grows fearful, she may also become disoriented.
After being unable to make sense of your mother’s circumstances, a Good Samaritan will call the police. Your local Area Agency on Aging or Adult Protective Services will arrange to have her evaluated. If no one steps in to help, your mom will be removed from her home and placed in a county facility. This may be a long-term care facility or even a hospital until there’s a vacancy more appropriate for her needs and until relatives are notified.
This is just one scenario. Anything is possible.
This is an important reason why both of you need to have your plans such as advance health care directives or living wills handy. Otherwise, all your caring won’t help once first responders arrive and don’t know who to call nor what you/your mother’s wishes are.
And be sure to take time out for yourself–get some respite.