I’m writing this post recognizing that I’m really kinda angry. I know I can get a little “righteous” but I’m seeing families work around their loved ones instead of with them.
I know often, it’s easier to to just do things for someone. Please imagine how you would feel if you suddenly found yourself on the outside when choices about your health and finances were made for you?
Maybe you had a discussion about the topic, but for someone with short-term memory loss they won’t remember that, so are there other ways to help include and remind them of the discussion and decisions made? A notebook, email or texts?
I’m working with a new client and she told me she went to the bank to get a copy of her last statement and her daughter and POA had changed her statements to paperless. She knows she can’t recall the amount of money in the bank and is having trouble managing the finances, but I could only imagine how awful it would make me feel if my loved ones were doing this around me. To be fair, they may have had the discussion and she didn’t remember. However, she was expressing how frustrating it was to be left out. She can still make good decisions and had managed to care for all these things for more than five decades. She wants her daughter to help her do it, not take it away from her and manage it for her. Short-term memory loss on it’s own doesn’t mean you can’t make good decisions or understand their consequences.
Don’t discount your loved ones ability. It is their life and if you love and respect them, assisting them when they need help navigating difficult choices is how you can show it.
I know I didn’t do this well when I started to help my parents. However, now that I have worked with so many families and individuals with varying stages of mild cognitive impairment and diagnosed dementia’s, I see a how devastating it can be to suddenly lose so much for the individual with a memory issue.
For those individuals just starting out, I always talk about us working in tandem. I will help with them organize and schedule, and they will review the bills and sign the checks. Usually, by the end of our first meeting they are breathing a sigh of relief. They see they are still involved and have control, and now have help to manage the components of paying their bills that was challenging.
You can apply this to the scheduling of medical appointments and follow ups as well.
Walk alongside, support and give your loved ones the opportunity to be involved. You might be surprised how much better things can progress when you do it together instead of “for them”. Advocated.