by Susan Frick, MSW, LSW
Living in the time of COVID-19 is a lesson in planning for everyone. Each of us are now having to think about the well-being and safety of ourselves, other family members and the greater community.
Being the caregiver of someone with dementia has always taken planning. To successfully manage, caregivers have always had to account for the daily schedule, mood and health of another person.
For a caregiver, an area of planning that is continually present but not always discussed, is their health and well-being. COVID-19 draws attention to this area of needed planning which has always there. Caregivers of people with dementia need to have a plan in place for what should happen if they become ill and cannot function as the caregiver.
Here are some areas to consider
- Are there other family members or friends who can step in? If they do not live with you, is their contact information given to others or well posted in the home? Does this person know medications and important daily routine of the person with dementia?
- Have you registered your family with the local police department? If there was an emergency would first responders know that someone in the house has dementia? Each community might have a slightly different procedure, so it is best to call your local police department to begin this process.
- Does your person wear a bracelet or ID which states they have dementia but equally important, do you wear a bracelet stating that you are a caregiver? This might be necessary if something suddenly happened, such as a car accident or medical emergency. MedicAlert (medicalert.org or 800-432-5378) offers such a program and other groups can be found through an online search.
- Is there someone in place to assume the role of making medical and financial decisions?
Most often a caregiver will not need these extra steps in caring for their person with dementia but having safety nets in place are important. Caregivers are always considering what is important for others but not always considering their own needs. During this time of COVID-19, we are all learning that having plans in place is not only comforting but necessary.