When I write articles for The Sun, the subject is often about situations that caregivers are experiencing firsthand at Memory Matters. This is one of those articles, and it is a topic that I have written about countless times.
We recently had a caregiver admitted to the hospital in the middle of the night. The husband had a fall and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. His wife, let’s call her Mary, was left at home alone.
Mary cannot drive or prepare her own meals, but she presents as though she is in the very early stage of Alzheimer’s, and the EMS personnel did not pick up on the situation.
She could have been there alone for days because there is no plan in place for someone to check in on her. Fortunately, Mary attends Memory Matters, and because she did not come on her scheduled day, we called her home.
When she answered the phone she sounded confused, so we called the police to do a wellness check. The situation was dire and, after many hours on the phone, a temporary plan was executed.
Sue (not her real name) attends Memory Matters twice a week. She drives herself here. In the past few weeks, she has arrived on the wrong day.
This is not a problem for Memory Matters but is concerning because, one particular day, when it was time to leave, Sue was looking for her spouse to pick her up. She forgot she drove herself.
When the husband was contacted he did not seem too concerned.
When asked what would happen to Sue if he were gone tomorrow, his response was, “Well, she would need to put the house on the market and find a place to live.”
Sue cannot even help pay bills. How could she possibly handle complicated transactions such as selling a home and finding a new place to live?
Obviously, this caregiver has no Plan B in place.
Being a responsible caregiver for someone with dementia demands that the caregiver not leave the loved one’s care to chance. A solid Plan B is necessary.
Plan B by my definition means there is a plan in place whereby a designated (local) person could take over for you immediately.
This person might need a temporary medical power of attorney for your loved one, know her schedule, her doctor, her medication, how to contact family members, and in short have a seamless continuum of care for your loved one.
The first step in creating a good plan should be to contact a geriatric case manager in the area. Visit www.aginglifecare association.org or call Memory Matters at 843-842-6688.
Having a Plan B in place is the most loving act you can do for your loved one.
Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. firstname.lastname@example.org