As a caregiver you have to be there for your loved one when they need you or when the people or place that is taking care of them needs you but what if you aren’t available? What if you are sick or out of town or tied up with something else…then what?
That recently happened to a friend of mine who left to go on a much needed vacation. She is the main person responsible for checking in on her mother. Her mother does not have dementia but is up in age and has other medical issues but was pretty independent. To make a long story short, when my friend called her mom upon her return mom didn’t answer her phone and after several tries she finally went over there and had to break in only to find out that she had slipped, fallen and had been on the floor injured and dehydrated for a couple of days.
She is on the mend now but will be in a rehab facility for some time. Something like this is a caregivers nightmare which leads me to the title of this post – do you have a backup plan? Do you have support in being a caregiver so that if you weren’t able to check up on your loved one someone else would? Is there someone else on the list of people to call if there is an emergency at a care facility and are they someone that is on the same page with you in how your loved one is to be cared for?
When I was caring for mom and dad I was the number one contact person for both of them. I never turned off my cell phone; I couldn’t really. And if I was unable to visit them or take care of any issues such as when I had to have surgery, I asked either my then older children to check on them or my sister. Even with that I would call them as soon as possible to get the full report on what occurred during their visit. This often drove them nutty. Too bad.
But when I actually let myself go on vacation, I was still tied to my phone (just in case) even though I had asked my sister/kids to check on mom and dad or I told the staff at their respective homes to call one of them and not me. Even with those arrangements I would still have a certain amount of worry about my parents and if family was really checking up on them; the worry factor would increase if I was out of the country or in an area with poor cell phone coverage. In caregiving no one does it exactly the same. That doesn’t mean they do it worse than you (well sometimes) it just means that what I would be concerned about or would look for wasn’t always the same thing as what my sister and children did.
So do you have a back up plan? If you have other family members that can help you then make sure they know about your loved ones routines, meals, medications, doctors, etc. Have a sheet made out for them with all of the necessary information on it. Leave a key with them so that they can get into the home but not unannounced. Have a scheduled time that they will call your loved one if that is a workable plan and let your back up person/s or the homes know where you will be and how to reach you…but only if it’s an emergency. You need that break!
If you don’t have family to assist you then are there friends, neighbors, church members that you can count on to check on your loved one be they at home or in a home? Perhaps you can see about hiring someone to come in an check on your loved one if you can afford that. Your local Alzheimer’s Association (Heart, Cancer, etc.) has resources to help you with something like this; use their resources because when it comes to being a caregiver having a back up plan is a necessity if you want to avoid something happening to you like what happened to my friend.