You find yourself helping your loved one with a few extra errands.
You begin noticing changes in their health - some of which they have not spoken to you about.
As you start doing a bit more, you realize that you need to discuss your concerns over the changes that you see. But how do you approach the subject?
More dramatic changes begin appearing in their health, and you're spending more time tending to their needs. Time seems to slip by - a blur.
Then it happens; your loved one gets admitted to the hospital, and decisions need to be made about whether to go on to a care home or perhaps hire in-home care.
Are you ready? Have you explored options? Do you know the difference between in-home care vs. a care facility? Is there an advanced directive in place? POLST if necessary? Do you understand Palliative Care? Hospice?
I think you get where I'm going here….prior proper planning. Family caregiving can be stressful, and not being prepared and finding yourself in the throes of a significant health shift can blindside you.
I remember when my Dad had vascular surgery that didn't go as planned while simultaneously being diagnosed with diabetes. Ultimately he lost part of his leg, and it went downhill quickly after that. I remember sitting at Mom and Dad's dining table with people from Hospice. Hospice? What were they there for? You want me to administer….Morphine? What is all of this???? I was in a state of shock.
Caregiving does not come with an owner's manual, so the more you can lean into your family and friends and find a support network, the better, so you don't feel alone. And please don't get caught without knowing your options; always talk with your loved one's doctor or lawyer to be sure of their thoughts. The National Institute on Aging has an excellent resource available that can aid as a checklist for you. Print it out now and be prepared before the time comes, not when it's already time.
Finally and perhaps most important. Have conversations with the one you are caring for. Keeping the communication lines between you is crucial. Let them know you want to do your best, so hearing from them about what they need is important to you.
Hugs, Cyndi Mariner