August 29, 2017, by Anum Yoon – Serving in America’s armed forces is honorable and commendable. It can also be unpredictable and quite stressful. Just when you have gotten used to the new community where you were stationed, you may get deployment orders which send you off to faraway lands.
The stress of such deployment orders can cause anxiety and friction, even in the strongest of families. Everything changes for everyone. What if you are responsible for your aging mother or father? Has Alzheimer’s disease afflicted a family member? How will you ensure your disabled brother gets the care he is used to while you are thousands of miles away?
First, accept that you can’t be in two places at once. Your loved one may not get the type of care you give, but for however long you will be gone, there are suitable options to ensure your loved one is happy and healthy in your absence.
Have a Family Meeting
Bring together all of those who will be affected by your deployment. Discuss how everyone is feeling about the move. Listen to those who will be left behind and determine what gaps in service and care need to be filled. Make sure all legal documents are up to date. Make any necessary changes and make sure they are notarized or handled by an attorney.
Discuss finances and appoint someone to be in charge of them. Can one person be in charge of decision-making, or are there conflicting parties who need to work out their differences? Getting everything out in the open before you leave is essential, as you don’t want small issues to become big problems when you’re away.
Can They Stay in Their Home?
Most adults want to stay in their own home. You and your family may come to the consensus that your loved one’s wishes should be respected and granted. This is going to require a big adjustment for family members left in charge. There will be new and changing responsibilities for others after you leave.Your loved one will need to be patient with the changes. They may have to give up some of their independence in order to get their needs met by others.
Try to look at your living space from a home care perspective. Is there enough open space to accommodate a wheelchair, for instance? Will you need to install ramps for easier access? Are their hazardous or sharp items which may cause harm to your loved one?
People with dementia may inadvertently take or even consume things within their reach. Do you need to put safety locks on your cupboards and cabinets? Investigate the living space and get input from family members or friends who have gone through this before.
A Little Help Goes a Long Way
For an elderly parent or disabled family member, you might want to consider a respite home care service. This would allow your loved one to stay in their home, while still receiving excellent care.
Think of it as a house call by a qualified caregiver. They will assist your loved one with whatever they need, whether it be bathing, medication administration, eating, cooking, cleaning, shopping or even dressing themselves. Your loved one will be able to maintain their independence and dignity, and will always be treated with respect. These activities we take for granted can be difficult for the aged and disabled or infirm.
Accept Your Limitations
Sad as it may be, at-home care may not be practical for you or your loved one.You may need to find a place where your mom or dad can get the care they need while enjoying as much independence as is possible, according to their circumstances.
Choosing a nursing home or a retirement community requires research and site visits to make sure it is the right place for your loved one. Meet with the on-site social worker or management to discuss what your loved one needs now and might need in the future, depending on their condition. If regular medication is needed, make sure they have an onsite nursing staff and knowledgeable care givers.
Some retirement communities offer complete independence. The living units are housed onsite where they can get medical care and don’t have to do any home or yard maintenance. Some provide places for group gatherings and meals and transportation to and from required medical appointments.
Openly discuss what your parent or loved one can and cannot do for themselves. See what types of activities are available and what kind of opportunities there are to mingle with others like your parent or loved one. It’s important to stay engaged in life and socialize with others. Depression is common in people living in nursing homes. You want to make sure they still have a reason to wake up and get moving every day.
Listen and Explain
Listen to your loved one’s concerns and try to address them as best you can. Imagine how frightening it is to leave your home and move to an unknown environment. Even if your parent has dementia, they will be feeling anxious and will express valid concerns with this big change.
Meet whatever demands you can and alleviate any concerns as best you can. But be firm that this change is going to take place, and it is being done for their benefit. Be prepared to give disappointing news when their wishes do not match the reality of their situation.
Moving far away is exciting, but leaving your family behind is stressful and sad. It’s important you pursue all of your options and put them in place before you leave. It won’t keep you from worrying, but it will make you more reassured. There is no substitute for you, but you’ll be comfortable knowing you did all you could and that your loved one is getting the best care others can provide.