ALZHEIMER’S, YOU AND YOUR SUPPORT
IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITY: BUILDING TRUST
My Dad considered Mom’s Alzheimer’s care to be his duty. To Dad’s credit, he took full command of Mom’s care and served her with honor.
I knew Dad would eventually need to trust others to help him. One countermeasure I tested to build this trust was to encourage Dad to call me for help.
HOW IT WORKED
Back then, Dad was yet to own a smartphone or a computer. He also had yet to understand how these tools could make his life easier. I invited Dad to call me to ask for help getting things he needed. He could call when he needed the phone number of the local shop that sharpened lawn mower blades. He could call when he was yet to have the time to go from store to store to shop for replacement vacuum cleaner bags only Mom knew where to find. I’d do the research and call Dad back, always careful to swap the information he requested for updates on Mom, her behaviors and her well-being.
As the strain of caregiving increased, and Dad’s trust that I was there for him grew, he began to call me for other kinds of support. Dad’s calls took on a new tone. Mom had misplaced her engagement ring that morning and Dad had spent three hours on the hunt. Mom had wandered away in the middle of cleaning the bathroom sink and now Dad had to finish his chores and hers as well. Dad was exasperated and needed a friendly ear.
As Mom’s Alzheimer’s progressed, and Dad’s trust in me to support him grew, so grew the complexity of the support issues. How can Mom get an accurate eyeglass prescription when she always tells the Optometrist her vision is fine? Is cataract surgery a good idea for Mom considering that she has Alzheimer’s?
WHAT WENT WELL (Plus)
- Phone support kept parent/adult-child lines of communication open.
- Frequent calls kept me in the loop on daily events in my parent’s lives.
- Gathered valuable intelligence during daily chats that would have been missed with a once-a-week call.
- Built Dad’s trust that help could be found to meet his caregiving needs.
- Built Dad’s trust that I could help from 2 hours away.
- Became an ear-witness (we had yet to have video chat) to Dad’s need for more sleep.
- Became an ear-witness to Dad’s need for more private time.
- Kept up-to-date on new evidence that the Alzheimer’s was progressing.
WHAT I’D CHANGE IF I COULD DO IT OVER (Delta)
- I’d set firm boundaries around the days and times that I could welcome Dad’s calls.
- I’d provide Dad an emergency plan to follow when he needed support on my off hours. (For example, the phone numbers for The Alzheimer’s Association’s National 24 x 7 hotline (1-800-273-3900); Dad’s local Area Agency on Aging; Dad’s local Department of Social Services.)
- I’d keep a log of call date / time / topic.
- Use to identify our knowledge gaps
- Use to spot trends in calls
- Use to identify when to bring in outside expertise
- I’d care for my own emotional and physical health by involving others sooner.
Your friend on the journey,