After publicly chronicling a three-year Alzheimer's caregiver journey with my mother, questions now come in weekly, sometimes daily, from others starting their own journey with this crazy disease. One the things that shocked me the most at the beginning of ours was how much we didn't know and how little we really understood the disease and the process. We had no idea how or where to start.
Periodically, I'll post one of those questions and not only tell you how we handled the situation, but also give you more resources to pull from. The more information you have, the less taxing it is. It doesn't make it any easier but it does allow you to focus your energies on taking care of your loved one - and - yourself.
From Jennifer: Hi Dayna, I have a question for the reigning Alzheimer's support expert. My Mom is now taking care of her younger sister who is suffering from Alzheimer's. She's still pretty early in the decline but there are already problems. She is not paying her bills. My parents have power of attorney and could take it over but Barb still wants to be more independent. Problem is there is a bunch of debt piling up with fees and the like. Do you know of any financial groups or advocates who help people with diseases like Alzheimer's negotiate better rates, help with payment plans, anything like that? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Dear Jennifer: We were lucky with money in that Mom really didn't want to be bothered with the accounts. Once my Dad started to have strokes, she was happy to let me take it over. Eventually I had to take her checkbook away. I know I told her a therapeutic fib about the bank issuing new checks or some story like that. It's important to remember it is not going to get better, only worse, and the sooner you can take over many things, the better in the long run.
Here are some good resources to learn from:
Please join in the conversation below if you have suggestions for Jennifer. If you need more information on this subject, never hesitate to reach out to me. If you have a question, same thing. You can leave a message here or reach me through my website. Caring For A Parent Support Group is also a wealth of information.
The most important thing is to realize you are not in this alone - and together - we will survive.
Dayna Steele is the Chief Caring Expert for Caring.com and the author of Surviving Alzheimer's with Friend, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine. See her Alzheimer's speech presentation on YouTube.