More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care valued at $210 billion for persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2012 Facts and Figures Report.
A recent study conducted by Working Mother Research, sponsored by GE and with input from the Alzheimer’s Association, revealed that 82% of current Alzheimer’s caregivers are keeping aging family members at home or in the patient’s home and that 49% report feeling stressed and 36% feel depressed. As part of their work, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers shared these study results and provided an overview of how geriatric care managers can assist families in caregiving and planning.
Family caregivers face a lot of worries over a loved one with dementia. A Harris interactive poll conducted in the fall of 2010 reported caregivers’ top concerns included their loved ones’ memory loss, personal safety and confusion. Sixty percent of the caregivers surveyed felt overwhelmed.
If your family is facing dementia, using a professional consultant such as a geriatric care manager can save you a lot of time, money and stress. Here are just a few things a geriatric care manager can do for you:
- Help you get a good diagnostic work up and get linked with good care providers; initial planning and consultation as well as counseling as you face a new diagnosis
- Consult with your family on specific issues such as finding appropriate resources and making family decisions about care
- Mediate family disagreements and help to overcome behavioral concerns that often accompany dementia such as paranoia or refusing care
- Assist in setting up Alzheimer’s specialty home care or finding an appropriate assisted care facility
- Elder care management: oversight for families at a distance, help managing medical appointments and coordinating care
- Crisis intervention to step in during an emergency room visit or sudden change
- Help navigating through tough issues like giving up driving, deciding to move a loved one in with you or to a care facility and advance care planning
For families facing dementia, we recommend the following steps:
- Get a thorough diagnostic workup and locate specialists in your area. You may benefit from a neurologist and geriatric psychiatrist and a specialty memory clinic can be a great resource for specialized care and treatment. Confused by the terminology of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and age-related memory loss? Get a copy of our Memory Loss Info. Sheet.
- Get involved with your loved one’s care. You may need to find a balance in respect for your loved one’s privacy and wishes, but you will need to become more involved to ensure coordination and safety in the long term. Interestingly, the Harris Poll noted above reflected the value of this involvement, with 53% of caregivers who were not involved in healthcare discussions with providers being dissatisfied with care, as opposed to 31% of those who were involved.
- Make a visit to your attorney, or get a referral to an elder law attorney. A qualified attorney can review your current documents and make recommendations so that you are prepared.
- Study up, with information from reputable sources. You might want to check out some of our recommended reading for dementia caregivers under our “resources” section as well as visit The Alzheimer’s Association website. It is also helpful to begin determining what resources are available in your area so that you have adequate time to make decisions.
A professional care manager can help with all of the steps above as well as offering you customized recommendations that best fit your family’s needs. As you think about hiring a geriatric care manager, you might want to download our free checklist with questions to ask and thing to consider:
Contact us at 727-447-5845 or online for more information or to schedule a geriatric care management consultation for your family.