Tips for Managing Dementia Care in Families

By Debra Drelich, LMSW, CMC, CHC, CADCCT 

Working together when a family member needs advanced care for dementia can be very complicated and stressful, even for families that are close. Every family situation has different geographical, financial and interpersonal dynamics, so each case has its own unique complications.

Here are some things every family needs to consider:

One Person Can’t Do It All
It’s important for everyone to remember that one person can’t be there all the time. If the family is very small and there is only one relative considering a loved one’s care, it may be possible to involve a neighbor or friend. Local senior organizations may be able to provide support through volunteer programs. Create a team to support your loved one.

Play to the Strengths in Your Family
Some family members may be better suited for some tasks than others and it makes sense to put them in charge accordingly. If someone in the family is a nurse, they may be the best person to interface with the doctors or caregivers involved. If one family member is better at managing finances, have them handle the bill paying.

Utilize Technology to Involve Everyone
With current technology, it is easy to keep everyone up to date and involved. Use FaceTime, Zoom, and email to keep everyone in the loop and make sure your loved one is getting the support they need.

Evaluate the Financial Situation
This is one of the most important things to consider because the most comprehensive care plan isn’t going to be useful if it’s not affordable. Figure out what it would cost to keep your loved one at home in their regional area so that you can plan ahead. Keep in mind all costs: rent/mortgage, food, utilities, prescriptions, clothing, and caregiving. Find out what insurance your loved one has and its cost, keeping in mind that Medicare does not cover chronic care. Consider the possibility of the family assisting with the finances if the loved one is unable to and if there are Medicaid pre-planning steps to take.

Get Professionals to Join Your Team
In addition to the family members and the physicians, there are many people who specialize in managing care and they can help your family achieve the best outcomes. They include elder care consultants, elder law attorneys, financial advisors, mediators, senior move specialists, senior support centers, and your local area’s Office on Aging or Department for the Aging. In the end, it will help to share the burden and provide a better outcome.

Debra Drelich is a licensed master social worker, a Sharp Again Board member, and Founder of New York Elder Care Consultants LLC.

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