It starts out commenting that the emotional toll of functional decline can be challenging for caregivers. “It is important to take note and to try to understand the meaning of behaviors, to reduce risks and liabilities, and preserve the older person’s dignity and quality of life.” This means that prior to a crisis, caregivers need to:
- Educate themselves on the issues and opportunities,
- communicate openly, and
- consider potential situations and emergencies and develop well thought out contingency plans.
As most of our family members know, caring for a loved one with a progressive disorder is never easy. The article recommends the following strategies to help reduce stress and improve communications.
- Obtain an objective assessment of the person’s declining capabilities from a medical professional.
- It might be difficult to have the person with Kennedy’s Disease talk openly with a professional. Pride is always an issue as well as fear and anger. These are all normal responses to lost capacity or capability. In some cases, the person will refuse to acknowledge that there is an issue at all.
- Acknowledging and empathizing with the painful feelings associated with the health issue can ease some of the frustrations.
- Also, reflecting on the person’s past accomplishments and recent ‘wins’ can help refocus the mindset of the individual.
- Attempt to share rather than take control of decision making.
- If at all possible, the older person needs to feel that their ideas and concerns, as well as their decisions, are being considered and are part of the decision-making process in regards to their life.
And, most important, know your limits and don’t be afraid to ask for help.