This month we’re taking a more in depth look at some of the services you may want / need to utilize as a cognitive Illness progresses.
To begin with, focus on establishing any services needed for daily care. If you or your loved one is hospitalized, a social worker will be assigned to help you prepare for next steps whether it’s being released to go home or to another facility for further care. The social worker will assist with connecting you with the services you need for this transition. Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice may be utilized for assistance with daily care, physical therapy, etc. They will also help arrange for any needed supports at home (hospital bed, walker, etc.) and visit regularly.
Once the initial crisis is over, one of the first and most important steps is to make sure all legal documents are in place for medical and financial decision making. This may include a Will, Advanced Directives for Healthcare, Power of Attorney for financial decisions, etc. Elder care lawyers, your local Council on Aging and Vermont Legal Aid can be very helpful in this area. If/when you are unable to speak for yourself, having these documents in place allows the person you chose to act on your behalf and carry out your wishes. These are crucial documents a caregiver will need.
Assess your financial situation and seek advice from a financial planner, if needed. Depending on your financial situation, it may be wise to establish a trust to protect your assets or to spend funds to make improvements to your home to make it easier to care for your loved one.
For the caregiver, arranging a support system is crucial. Family, friends and neighbors will offer to help you; don’t be shy or afraid to bother anyone. Make good use of these offers; have a list of areas/things they can help with. Write in on the calendar so you’ll know when to make appointments or arrange meetings. No one is Superman or Superwoman and we all need help sometimes!
Another resource to consider is utilizing an Adult Day Center. Adult day can offer to support the person who is ill and also the caregiver. The earlier in the illness a person begins attending an adult day, the more beneficial it is for the person attending and also for the caregiver. Adult days offer an opportunity for social engagement, physical therapy supports, medical oversight and assistance with daily care while there. For the caregiver, adult day offers a break to care for your needs, run errands, socialize with friends, read a book, take a nap, etc.
Next month we’ll talk about when a loved one needs a greater level of care than can be handled at home.