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Before Long-Term Care: Planning for the Future with Alzheimer's

No longer being able to keep your loved one at home is a point most caregivers will reach. It's not an easy decision to make, and it's one of the most dreaded decisions I have heard caregivers discuss. However, planning for the future with Alzheimer's can make the logistics a bit easier.

In discussing how my mom, Jean, made this decision for her dad, we offer some pointers.

Planning for the future with your loved one

Ask your loved ones to identify who should be making these decisions for them. Though it can be a hard conversation to have when everything is peaceful, it is much better to have it made once life gets tumultuous.

My mom has stressed our entire lives what her wishes are if something were to happen to her. She encourages this behavior of everyone. She talked to both of her parents about death and what they want in life. When the time came, she is able to say, "I knew what he wanted." If you have siblings or other concerned relatives, include them in these conversations.

Sort out the legal issues

Jean says she encourages everyone to consult an attorney. In my family's case, my mom held a power of attorney, making her the primary decision-maker in her parent's care.

However, she later found that she needed to acquire guardianship for my Poppop. She believes, had she consulted a lawyer at the outset, that this could have been handled before she encountered any issues.

Before long-term care

Although considering a nursing home or advanced care facility is not something many people want to talk about, it is important to weigh it as an option early on, because facilities may not have immediate availability.

You might be waiting for a considerable amount of time for a bed to open up in a chosen facility. So take the time even before you and your loved one are ready to make that change to identify a facility that you are both comfortable with. Even put your loved one's name on the waitlist.

Poppop was a veteran, as such, was eligible for placement in a Veteran Affairs facility. Jean had placed him on the list however when his name was called, his circumstances had changed and the spot was passed on to the next in line.

Determine your financial situation

Who pays for long-term care is tricky and will vary from person to person. Whether it is paid out of pocket, via a long-term care plan set up in advance or social services, like Medicare or Medicaid, this will play a factor in what facilities you look at.

Visit and evaluate long-term care facilities

Things to consider:

  • Cleanliness. Are patients in fresh clothes? Are the patients out of bed? Are their needs being met?
  • Activities. Are there events scheduled to keep the patients active? Is there a place to take your loved ones outdoors while you are visiting? This one was important for my grandfather, who enjoyed his time outside.
  • Location. Will the space be easy for you to get to in a crisis or for a visit?
  • Level of care provided. Does the facility offer the services you need?

Do your best with the options that you have

Once Poppop was settled at a nursing home, my mom went to visit at different times, as a sort of spot check on the facility. She especially made a point at night time to get him settled and tucked in for the evening. This was what worked for her, specifically.

"There is no right or wrong," she says in terms of how you decide to manage it. Either way, "It's heartbreaking when you leave." Do you or a loved one have experience with planning and finding long-term care to share?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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