At almost every visit, my Mom will ask “Who would help me if you weren’t here?” I tell her friends would fill in or she could hire someone, but she always bats away these responses. My mom is currently in an Assisted Living facility. For three years I have been very involved in the care and support of my parents. They were 78 and 79 years old when I turned into a caregiver.
An AARP report from 2010 stated that one-third of U.S. adult population plays a caregiver role in households across America. That totals 65.7 million caregivers. A previous report I found put this number as 44 million — either way — it’s a large number of people. We all have unique roles and challenges as caregivers.
At almost every adult gathering, you will find a discussion about this topic and many of the caregivers are overwhelmed, frustrated and often hog-tied because they lack access to the information they need to better support the person they are helping.
I feel like I was lucky. Because my parents had dementia, I had time to work with them to collect and organize much of their household information. My parents had completed their estate plans, and I held a Durable Power of Attorney. When that didn’t work or we found that it could take weeks and even months to navigate the approval process. We ended up setting up online access to most of their accounts to allow me to easier help my parents. Shhhh, don’t tell — it’s against most online user agreements.
For those of you dealing with a loved one with dementia, please know that my mother was very resistant to turning over these reigns. To this day she doesn’t recognize her limits and I set up a small checking account so that she could still keep a checkbook in her wallet and write checks if she so desires. My father helped me navigate most of their accounts. I hope that you are able to at least get access to the information you need. Once you have gone through the process of trying to be a caregiver and running into roadblocks, you will start looking at your own life and affairs. If someone needed to step in and help you, could they?
This topic seems to be such a cloaked conversation. I do see media outlets covering the topic more as many in the media are dealing with issues in their own families and are trying to bring light to this topic. I’m doing my job to shed light on this subject and offer simple solutions with MemoryBanc. Powered.