Caring for the Caregiver
Life as a Caregiver
Making Difficult Decisions continued...
Like Vivian, some bring their loved one into their homes,
managing their care the best they can. Others try "long-distance care"
-- letting mom stay in her own home, hiring care managers who act as surrogate
children, making sure she gets her medications, gets to the doctor, etc.
For others, assisted living centers where people live fairly
independently -- or nursing homes that provide complete care -- might be the
most viable options.
Some issues help make the best choice clearer. What type of
assistance does mom need? Does she need help with daily living activities, like
bathing, dressing, getting from the bed to the wheelchair? Or does she need
total nursing care? Is the family caregiver available all day or just in the
evenings? Can the family transport her to community services, like day care
programs? Can they take her to medical appointments?
For some families, the logistics of transporting an elderly
parent -- especially during a busy work week -- can be a significant problem,
Every family needs some guidance in figuring it all out, she
says. "That's where a case manager can help. It really helps to talk
through these things with somebody who understands the range of options,"
Kelly tells WebMD.
Letting mom stay in her own home -- and managing her care
long-distance -- may seem like a good option until you talk with a case
manager. "If you're at a distance, you may have to travel more frequently
to check in. That extra cost, along with the cost of care, can be significant
Then again, the emotional component of relocation may defy all
rational arguments, says Kelly. "Relocating may seem like the best option,
but not what the older person wants to choose at that time. You can't discount
the emotional aspect. Sometimes it takes a crisis to precipitate a
Figuring Out Finances and Legal Issues
Legal and financial issues must be dealt with early, says
Kelly. How do you pay for it all? Who will make decisions about the patient's
care when incapacity strikes? Sorting through the legalities is a complicated
issue, one that involves -- among other things -- setting up trusts to preserve
assets, she tells WebMD. It also means assigning "durable power of
attorney" status, which gives legal power to the adult caregiver.