Most people may be aware of the challenges facing a person with dementia, but what about those facing the caregiver?
In many cases the caregiver is a spouse or partner of similar age, who may have their own health issues. The toll on the caregiver may be overlooked as they take on more and more of the responsibility for care. Caregiving ultimately becomes a 24 hour job. The stress from being increasingly overwhelmed and unable to cope can result in caregivers become severely ill or cause early death.
This new reality is very emotional for the caregiver. The Alzheimer’s Society has an excellent summary of the guilt, anger, grief and loss that friends, family and especially caregivers might feel: Impact on family and friends.
Planning steps for support and the associated financial costs at various stages of decline for the person with dementia and their caregiver is essential.
Help and Support for the Caregiver
- Recognition of the caregiver’s reality is the first step.
- A family meeting to openly discuss the challenges is often helpful. Even if there is enough money to hire some support, other family members may need to step up and help as well – a reprieve for a few hours can be a godsend.
- Consider getting some help with laundry, meals and/or cleaning.
- Driving can be a challenge as the number of doctor and specialist appointments increases. There are a number of driving services available.
- It might be useful to have another family member in doctor’s appointments to take notes and ask questions and provide support.
- Check into community support programs. A two-hour break while someone is at the local community centre can make a huge difference.
- Have the person with dementia assessed by the Health Authority in your area. They will arrange a home visit to meet with the person with dementia. An assessment will include what services they may be eligible for and if there are any government supported resources.
Financial concerns – Care homes and in-home care can be very expensive. This can go on for many years and can lead to fear and anxiety about running out of money. We can help by creating a Financial Plan that shows the impact of extra monthly costs in the short term and the long term.
Tax credits – It is worth checking with an accountant to find out what tax credits are available for the various types of support. The extra savings may make some support options more feasible. The most common credits are:
- Disability tax credit
- Caregiver tax credit
- Medical expenses (including attendant care, meal preparation and maid services)
Being the caregiver entails mourning the “loss” of the person you love, while still living with and caring for them. Assisting them in their everyday routines while monitoring their every activity can be mind-numbing at best, and often overwhelming. Support will be needed.
- The Financial Impact of Additional Help
- Making Tough Decisions about Dementia