Memory Loss: Creating a Plan B
By Jen Bowman, Director of Community Relations for Azura Memory Care of Beloit and Clinton
Once your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia the Plan A is typically to keep Grandma in her home for as long as possible. However, there may come a time when these walls aren’t supporting her quality of life any more.
Unfortunately, those with dementia will not recognize their need for assistance. This is why families need to formulate a Plan B for where their loved one might live, if their home situation is no longer a good fit.
The first step in creating a Plan B is to ensure that the person with memory loss has Healthcare and Financial Power of Attorney paperwork. This paperwork should name a primary and a secondary person that would assist in making decisions for the person when they cannot.
However, this paperwork does not take effect until two physicians or a physician and a psychologist medically determine the person to be incompetent or unable to make medical decisions for themselves.
If the Power of Attorney paperwork is not in place, it may result in a court proceeding to establish guardianship, which can be costly and take time.
The Power of Attorney’s should be involved in creating the Plan B and visit Memory Care homes that would be able to assist Grandma now and in the future. In doing this, you are ensuring that if something happens to your loved one or their main care provider, there is a Plan B in place to ensure that they will be OK.
Moving is hard, which can lead to it being pushed off, but if anyone see signs of the below issues it’s time for Plan B.
1. The person with dementia is no longer safe at home –set off the fire alarm in Grandma’s home, if she doesn’t respond appropriately, she shouldn’t be living alone.
2. Family is unable to provide the necessary level of care – if caregivers become short with a person or if lifting Grandma could harm her or the caregiver; it’s time to seek assistance.
3. The current level of needs is too great for family or is too difficult to manage others to do – if Grandma needs 24/7 care, it depends on reliable people to be there all day, every day without excuse, absence or delay.
4. Emergency and crisis situations have arisen – Grandma falls, caregiver is ill or worse 63% of caregivers pass before the person they are giving care to!
Sadly, #4 is the most common reason why a Plan B is enacted. Most families wait until a health crisis occurs to create a Plan B and then wait until another crisis or myriad of concerns happen before enacting it.
Plan A is to keep Grandma at home, but the when the walls can’t hug or keep her safe; it’s time to realize that the memories can come with her. The main thing is to ensure Grandma is safe, supported and smiling and that can happen when Plan B is in place.