I was the primary adult family caregiver for my parents for five years. My journey ended last Christmas when my mom passed away. I know I will be moving through a grieving process for many years to come, but was happy that her life with dementia ended. It’s a nasty disease that steals away our loved ones bit-by-bit.
I learn by doing and used this blog to chronicle many of my lessons in hopes that it may help others. One of the valuable resources you should be able to find in your community is a Life Care Manager (formerly referred to as a Geriatric Care Manager). They are usually nurses or social workers by training and have layers of additional education and practical experience required to earn this designation. Aging Life Care™ is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. To find one in your area, you can visit the Aging Life Care Association.
Looking back, I could have called them in to help more and should have. There wee blocks of time when every visit to see mom was filled with medical follow-ups. I would have preferred to just visit mom and be her daughter than try to run down a host of issues from getting her toe-nails trimmed to a concerns about some intermittent dizziness she was experiencing.
The three times I recommend you consider hiring an Aging Life Care Manager include:
- When you are looking for a community. My parent’s had bought into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) but there was a point when Assisted Living wasn’t the right fit for my very mobile mom with dementia, and Memory Care only cared for individuals in the final stages. I hired a local firm to help me whittle down the choices and understand how to measure each community.
- When your loved one ends up in the hospital. There were a few visits to the ER for mom in the last year of her life. I called in help when mom broke her hip and to operate, the doctor was demanding I lift the DNR. It was complicated, and the Aging Life Care Manager helped me navigate my choices and fulfill my mother’s wishes.
- When you just want to be the daughter, son, or spouse. As you have already learned, there is so much you don’t know about a medical condition they may have or the way nurses, doctors, and community health services work, that I recommend bringing them in to just manage the medical needs.
If you are in the DC-metro area, I am happy to provide a referral to some wonderful Aging Life Care managers. Recommended.