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“I don’t need help” – Part 2

When a loved one obviously needs help at home but refuses to allow it, it’s frustrating! Below are two common concerns, with suggestions for ways to problem solve together.

 

Cost is a very practical barrier
Many older adults feel particularly vulnerable where money is concerned. They don’t want to spend! But the cost of help depends on the type of help needed.

If licensed care providers are what your relative needs—for example, home visits with a physical therapist after a hip surgery—Medicare and supplemental insurance usually cover these costs.

If nonmedical help is needed (cooking, laundry, errands), there may be resources to assist. Maybe your relative has long-term care insurance. Perhaps he or she is eligible for VA benefits. Consulting with a care manager can bring those possibilities to light.

Or it may be that your loved one does not have an accurate picture of his or her financial resources. If you are the person your loved one trusts with money matters, ask if you can review the facts together to better understand his or her concerns.

 

Retaining control over their life
It’s common for accepting help to symbolize “the end of my independence.” That’s a scary thought. Realistically, though, all of us will need assistance at some point. You might try asking, “Under what circumstances would you see yourself accepting help at home?” This allows your loved one to explore his or her own red flags. Plus, it gives you insight about what life event might make home care acceptable and why.

When hiring help, look for ways your relative can retain as much control as possible:

  • Pick the caregiver.
  • Choose the days and times for help.
  • Decide on the care attendant’s tasks and participate in giving the instructions.
  • Clarify if this is a short-term or long-term arrangement.

 

Does this conversation feel like a battle?
At Senior Care Management Services we often notice that an older adult will be more resistant to their child’s suggestion regarding help than they are when they talk with a professional. With a professional, there is less face to save and no family baggage. As the Northern Virginia experts in aging well, we’d be happy to talk with you about options for introducing the subject. Give us a call at 703-329-0900. Let’s see what we can do.

Before you quit your job

It may be true: Your aging relative needs more and more care. You know you are the best person for the job. But it’s too much to do on top of your own work. Think twice before exiting the workforce, however. There are some stiff financial consequences.

For example, if you are midcareer, you are in your prime income-earning years. This is when you want to double down on retirement savings. If your employer offers retirement matching funds, you want to be in a position to grab them! And continue contributing to Social Security.

According to a Met Life study:

  • Men age 50 and over who left work to care for a parent lost an average of $89,107 in wages. The impact on their Social Security benefits was $144,609. Loss of pension income, $50,000. Altogether, early retirement cost male employees $283,716 over their lifetime.
  • Caregiving women age 50 and over got hit much harder. They tended to leave work sooner. Lost wages averaged $142,693. Women lost $131,351 in Social Security. Figuring lost pension at $50,000, early retirement cost female employees $324,044.

 

Consider these options:

  • Hiring help at home may be less expensive than losing your wages. Suggest sharing the cost with your siblings. (Show them this article!) Then no one among you bears the sole financial burden.
  • You might take advantage of an adult day center to provide care during your work hours.
  • Ask about flex-time options so you can work when others can care for mom or dad.
  • Investigate Family Medical Leave. If your company is big enough, you may be able to take weeks or months off. (It is unpaid.) That may get you through a crisis and buy you time to make other arrangements.

In your generous desire to help, be careful you don’t shortchange your own future.

Is it time to get your siblings more involved?
At Senior Care Management Services we’ve seen one sibling become the primary caregiver while others seem not to pitch in. It’s not necessarily a matter of laziness. Often it’s a matter of not understanding the needs. As the Northern Virginia expert in family caregiving, we can help you meet with your siblings and work out a plan that addresses everyone’s concerns. Give us a call at 703-329-0900.

 

Is it Alzheimer’s disease?

When your father struggles to remember a grandchild’s name, should you be concerned? Older adults typically have some memory loss. People with Alzheimer’s disease, however, experience very specific changes in their thinking that go beyond the normal forgetfulness of aging.

 

You might consider a dementia evaluation if your loved one has begun having difficulty with the following:

  • Remembering new things. Do you have to give the same information over and over again?
  • Dealing with numbers and logical thinking. Is Dad fumbling with the checkbook? Having trouble with a favorite card game?
  • Familiar activities. Is Mom leaving ingredients out of favorite recipes? Skipping steps?
  • Understanding the passage of time. Do you have to remind your loved one of the season or year?
  • Changes in vision. Does Dad have trouble judging distances? Does he get easily lost or disoriented, not recognizing familiar places?
  • Carrying on a conversation. Is Mom repeating herself or seeming to make up words? Do her answers in a conversation not make sense with the topic?
  • Losing things. Are you finding things put in odd places?
  • Poor decision making. Is Dad spending money on unusual purchases? Do you have to convince Mom to bathe?
  • Socializing or doing hobbies. Has Mom given up a favorite hobby or withdrawn from a group of friends?
  • Staying calm. Is your loved one suddenly moody? Perhaps anxious or irritable?

 

Any one of these changes in behavior could signal the beginning of a more serious memory problem, or not. That is why it’s important to have your loved one checked out by a physician.

  • It may not be Alzheimer’s. A number of reversible conditions look like Alzheimer’s. With proper diagnosis and treatment, these symptoms disappear.
  • If it is Alzheimer’s, there are benefits to detecting it as early as possible. Medications are available that slow the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Other medications may help relieve moodiness.

 

For more information about what’s normal and what’s not, check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s in-depth description of the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s.

 

Are you worried?
As the Northern Virginia experts in aging well, we at Senior Care Management Services understand how troubling the thought of Alzheimer’s can be. We can help you get a proper evaluation. Give us a call at 703-329-0900.