Were you aware that, on September 21, we celebrate World Alzheimer’s Day? This is a day to raise awareness of what this disease can mean for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as impacted family members. Often called a “family” disease, Alzheimer’s can have a significant impact not just on the person afflicted, but on family members, including spouses, siblings, and adult children. If you are the adult child of a parent recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, you may be taking on a caregiving role that feels strange to you, when you are used to having the role of the child in your relationship. It can be important to find support for yourself, as well as for your mother or father, as you walk this path together.
If your mom or dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it may feel overwhelming. You may be used to looking to your parents for advice, even as an adult child. Some children rush to jump in and “save the day” while others have a hard time accepting the diagnosis. Wherever you are in your own thought process, your first step after finding out might be to ask your parents how they feel. What are their fears about the disease? What would they like to do before they become incapacitated over time?
If their biggest fears include what will happen when they cannot live independently, helping them make plans for a future caregiver may put their mind at ease. Whether you are able to fill the caregiver role or need to find a healthcare professional, you can begin planning now. If they have a strong desire to spend more time with their grandchildren while they can still communicate effectively and recognize them, perhaps you can find ways to make that happen.
It can also be important to find support for yourself. There may be several local support groups for family members and caregivers of those affected by Alzheimer’s. Going to one that meets regularly can give you a place to express your frustrations and concerns. It may also be a place to make friends with other adult children of parents who have Alzheimer’s who can provide a shoulder to lean on, as well as an outlet for advice.
If your mom and/or dad has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, now is the time to discuss future caregiving plans and estate planning. You may need to come up with plans for who will provide day to day care, how you will pay for it, and how you will preserve their assets for your other parent (if applicable) and possibly for yourself and your children. As tough as these subjects can be to discuss, it is important to do so before your parents are incapacitated, so that they can have an active role in making plans for their own future and for yours while they are mentally competent to do so. Our office is here to help. Contact us to schedule a meeting.