This section will guide you through specific concerns you may have that have not been answered in other sections of caregivinghelp.org. It is our intent to answer several questions on a regular basis for your reference. Email or call for more information on a subject of interest to you.
- How can I get my loved one to stop driving?
- Should I encourage my family member to live with me?
- How can I help my loved one stay as independent as possible?
- How do I arrange for emergency care if something happens to me?
- How can I cope with the stress?
- Looking for tehcnical help with this site?
Being able to drive is a key part of independence and is a particularly difficult activity for people to relinquish. If problems with driving are new, an undiagnosed memory, vision, or other health problem may be part of the reason. If you have expressed your concern and your family member has not responded, you can ask his or her doctor to order a driving assessment. Visit the resources section under Driving and Transportation to find driving rehabilitation programs, driver evaluation services and driver safety classes. If your family member is resistant to the idea of taking a course or getting a driving evaluation and you are truly concerned, first try to figure out what may be causing the driving problem. Explore the Health and Wellness resources for information about the effect of various health conditions or prescription drugs on driving. If you suspect memory problems may be the cause of risky driving behaviors, look for the information on driving and dementia in the Health and Wellness resources.
If you are not sure about making this change, think carefully about how to balance the needs and preferences of your loved one with your own. What are their preferences for how to live independently? Are they happy? Are they safe in their current situation? Are they getting enough assistance? You also need to think about your own capacities. Will the competing demands of work and family allow you to spend more time with your loved one? How will others be able to assist? Is your home suitable and will it be safe? Try to get an accurate picture of your family member's daily routines and needs in order to make a realistic decision. Spend some time observing him or her or talk to your loved one's neighbors and friends to gain insights on how he or she is managing.
When you are familiar with the needs of your family member, you may decide to get your loved one involved in activities to find some companionship. In addition to hiring a caregiver, consider other care arrangements. Many churches and synagogues have congregants who will visit isolated older adults. Visit the Professional Caregivers section of this website or review the Housing section to learn more.
Many older people can remain independent in some areas even if they have very limited abilities in other areas. It is important to take into account your own expectations for your family member and then try to understand what he or she can actually do or what kinds of decisions they can still make. The key is to focus on remaining abilities or strengths. These will vary depending on the health conditions of your family member. Complete a home safety assessment, arrange for transportation or visit the section on Lifting and Transferring to learn some techniques for encouraging your loved one to work with you when moving. Search for resources to find products that maximize independence in daily tasks. For ideas about promoting independence for someone with dementia visit Personal Care through Task Breakdown.
If you are doing most of the care for your loved one, you may be worried about what to do if you have an emergency yourself. You may have a health problem that requires immediate attention or hospitalization, or may need to leave suddenly for another family emergency. Some careful thinking and planning ahead could minimize problems. Developing a system for quickly sharing of information about your loved one and their needs is one strategy. Write down important information about your loved one needs and any important health information or contact information and keep those documents in an easy to find location that anyone could access in an emergency. In addition you may want to consider identifying one or two people who are familiar with your situation who would agree to come at the last minute. Visit the Caregiving Circle section for some ideas for how to organize and share important information with other people who could help you in an emergency. It may also be worth it to call local respite care organizations to see if any offer respite care on short notice.
"I feel like crying all the time." The stress of providing care day after day can have an impact on your own physical or mental health. It is important to take care of yourself. If you are worried or want to get an idea of how you are handling stress, complete the online Caregiver Self-Assessment tool provided by the American Medical Association. If you just want to take a brief moment to relax, try the exercises on our Moment for Yourself page. Other options might include a private consultation with a Geriatric Care Manager, seeking other professional support, attending a caregiver support group, or taking a class for caregivers. If you are experiencing major changes in your mood, behavior, or energy level, it is important to talk with a health care professional or your physician as soon as possible.