To act as an advocate for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of the condition and, ideally, your loved one’s care preferences. While there’s no need to have a legal background, some decisions you’ll have to make may require the guidance of a lawyer. The following are a few tips for how to successfully advocate for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Make Important Care Decisions Early
Older adults should make as many of their care decisions as soon as possible after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s—or even before that point, if possible. As soon as your family learns about the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it’s important to sit down with your loved one and discuss his or her wishes for the future. Consider either recording the conversation (with your loved one’s consent) or having an attorney present during the discussion.
This conversation will ensure your loved one’s wishes are known in advance so they can be honored after he or she is no longer able to advocate for him or herself. You should talk about how your parent would want various financial and medical situations to be handled, and it may be a good idea to have the attorney draft legal documents, such as a power of attorney and a living will, at this time.
One of the first things to consider is whether and when to hire a professional caregiver for your loved one. Families looking for top-rated elder care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.
Respect Your Loved One’s Decisions when Possible
While some decisions seniors make, such as not wanting to take their medication, may require stepping in for their own safety and wellbeing, this isn’t always the case. Determine whether or not such decisions are characteristic of your parent’s previously expressed views or out of character. For instance, if decisions your loved one is making now are in line with his or her typical way of thinking, those preferences may be perfectly sound.
Even if your parent seems illogical or unreasonable due to his or her condition, take the time to offer choices, and try to respect his or her decisions. Respecting your loved one’s wishes might not always be possible, but as long as your loved one isn’t hurting him or herself or others, having freedom of choice may lead to a greater sense of independence and dignity.
Make It a Group Effort
Advocating for a senior with Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be a solo effort. Keep other key family members and relevant care providers (e.g., doctors, nurses, and other caregivers) involved with the process as much as possible. Your loved one should also be encouraged to provide input as long as he or she remains mentally capable.
A trained Alzheimer’s caregiver can be a wonderful source of information and support for family caregivers. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of at-home care. Oshkosh families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Ensure Quality of Life
As an advocate for a senior with Alzheimer’s, you’re going to be acting in his or her best interests. For this reason, it’s important to put aside personal preferences that may differ from your loved one’s known or documented wishes and seek legal expertise as necessary.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, but compassionate help is available. For reliable Alzheimer’s care, Oshkosh families can turn to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of professional memory care designed to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life. In addition to Alzheimer’s care, we also provide comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care. From revolutionary care programs to compassionate and dedicated caregivers, we can meet all of your Alzheimer’s care needs. Call us at (920) 573-6295 to create a customized in-home care plan.