Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rally Around Your Loved One in Their Time of Need

Today I received a newsletter from the Michigan Family Caregivers through their Yahoo Group, MIFamilyCaregivers. The title of the article was Aging Gracefully.

In the newsletter they remind us that November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month, National Family Caregivers Month, and National Hospice Month. Although each is an important topic, the three have a strong connection.

What I want to focus on in this entry is a comment made in the newsletter about family members and the final days of a persons life. After discussing Alzheimer's, the author continued by saying:

"As scary as that sounds to caregivers who are now facing early or middle stages (of Alzheimer's), gaining knowledge and preparing to address these challenges is critical. Never is it so important for the family to rally around the person and advocate for the best possible care for the final days and years of the persons life."

Because the person may no longer be able to communicate their basic needs and feelings, it is important that caregivers and family members recognize and understand what they need as best they are able. Watch for non-verbal clues that will help find ways to meet the person's needs.

I believe, in our family, we are blessed that as many have rallied around as they have over the years of Mom's dementia, and now Dad's final years. Most of us lived in the same state when Mom was at her worst, and those in the area were able to take turns visiting her at home and after she was in the nursing home.

With Dad, most everyone has scattered to various cities and states, but they try to visit when possible. What he really enjoys the most are photos that people send, telephone calls, and sharing personal interests such as football games or family history.

Whether family members live close by or far away, everyone in our family has done what they are able to rally around Dad in his later years. I hope no one ever thinks they did not do enough, because they are doing the best they can from where they are at.

When I am on the caregiver forums, I read horror stories of family in-fighting, lack of compassion, caregivers handling everything alone, and abusive situations.

Thankfully, our family has none of that, nor do I expect we ever will. That is not how we were raised, nor is it how we conduct ourselves as a family. No, we don't always agree, and that's okay. We work things out.

I feel very blessed for the family we have, the cooperation and support we receive, and I know Dad feels the same.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank my family for their support, even when they don't feel they are doing enough. We, as a family, have rallied around Dad in his time of need. For this, I am proud of my family.

How about you? Has your family rallied? If so, have you told them how grateful you are? How about telling them today!

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