5 Tips for Caregivers Preparing to Place a Loved One in Long-Term Care

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5 Tips for CaregiversA person develops Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds in America. The most common form of dementia in the country affects millions, whether it’s the newly diagnosed or their friends and family.

If your husband, wife, mother, or father has been living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you might be seeing it progress to the point where they are no longer suited to life at home. You may no longer be able to provide adequate care, and it might be time to admit your loved one to a long-term care facility.

This can be one of the most difficult stages of life. It’s one thing to watch your loved one struggle, but when it gets to the point you will no longer share a roof with them and have to put them under someone else’s care, it can be overwhelming. While you are likely well aware that the help they’ll receive in a facility is needed, in order to successfully make this transition, you will have to prepare yourself and accept the fact that life as you know it will be different. But that does not mean it can’t be done with positive results both for yourself and your loved one.

Here are five tips to help prepare you for making the transition to long-term care for your loved one:

1. Stay Connected with Friends and Family

Hopefully when you were caring for your loved one, you didn’t lose relationships with friends and family members. If you did, then it’s important to reconnect with those social networks. You’re going to need help during this time and these are the people who you can lean on. They can help you feel good about yourself, offer advice, provide opportunities to take your mind off the loneliness you might be feeling, and provide an outlet for you in a variety of ways. In addition to personal relationships, joining a support group for people in a similar situation can be helpful, as they can relate to the struggle you’re experiencing.

2. Don’t Let Grief Turn to Anger

It can be very easy for the grief you’re feeling over this new situation to turn to anger. After all, you’re no longer with someone you’ve been with likely for the majority of your life. They are now under the care of individuals who view this person as a patient, not a wife, husband, mother, or father. Do your best not to take your frustrations out on these people. Many of them are professional, respectable caregivers who will do their best to make sure your loved one is receiving the best care. Being angry or short-tempered with them helps nobody. The reality is that you must accept that the situation is now largely out of your hands. If you have concerns, approach your loved one’s caregiver(s) and simply ask questions. You’ll likely find that if you confront these concerns in a calm manner, those who are caring for your loved one can offer the answers, support, and peace of mind you need.

3. Don’t Blame Yourself

You are not a professional caregiver and sometimes a situation gets to the point where you can no longer provide adequate care on your own. Remember that you have a life to lead, too. Doing your best to be a dutiful spouse or child can only go so far; at some point, you’ll need to accept the reality that professional care is the best option for you and your loved one. In fact, seeking professional care for your loved one rather than letting your guilt and sense of duty cloud your judgment can actually be the most caring gesture. You’ve done all you could and you’re at the next step, so don’t second-guess your decision or blame yourself for the condition your loved one is in.

4. Keep Up with Visits

Even if your loved one isn’t always sure you’re there or can’t participate in a conversation, keep up with your visits. Staying away can only add to your grief. Remember, too, that your presence is important and your loved one likely isn’t experiencing the same emotions as you. They likely aren’t fully aware of their new living conditions and are not consumed by grief. Having said that, depending on the stage at which your loved one is at, visiting them regularly and communicating with them may assist in keeping their mind active.

5. Set Realistic Expectations

When you visit your loved one, be aware that they might be content just staring out the window, watching birds play in a nest. It might not be enjoyable for you, but sitting there in silence, perhaps holding hands, could be just what your loved one needs. Sometimes quiet, caring companionship is enough. Try your best to make accommodating visits and spend time accordingly. Sometimes just 15 quality minutes is what they need.

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Source for Today’s Article:
“2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” Alzheimer’s Association web site; http://www.alz.org/facts/overview.asp, last accessed March 27, 2015.

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