Making the best decisions for your loved ones

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015

There’s nothing easy about watching your loved ones slowly slip away from you.
Three of my grandparents were diagnosed with dementia. Dealing with this illness is never easy on the family. My grandparents almost never recognized their own family and, at times, became agitated when certain parties were around.
Of course, we want to take care of them ourselves. But, in reality, this is easier said than done.
Dementia patients often need the specialized care that only medical professionals can provide.
In some cases, they need around the clock care. They may be bed-ridden and unable to perform basic hygienic and adult functions, including feeding themselves.
Their behavior can change in the blink of an eye, as they are unable to remember familiar faces and or events.
It’s frustrating, not only for them, but for family members to witness as well.
In the best of circumstances, we want our loved ones to pass on to the next world surrounded by their family.
However, at what point do we decide to set aside our selfish desires and make a decision that is based on the patient’s best interest?
Each patient is different and it’s wonderful if loved ones are able to care for him or her, but when that is clearly not an option, I believe that it’s important to evaluate the situation.
My grandfather had wonderful caregivers who took care of him in his home 24-hours a day, and he died within the home he was born.
My grandmother, on the other hand, went to live in an assisted living facility, because she needed more care. Sadly, she passed away in that facility, but I knew she was being taken care of. It’s not ideal, but that’s life sometimes.
If your loved ones reside in a care facility, my advice is to visit them as often as possible, talk and laugh with them, be their advocate, educate yourself on the disease and the facility and most importantly, make their needs a priority.
In all honesty, the best I believe we can hope for is that our loved ones will exit this life with as little suffering as possible.
I will be the first to admit, I am not an expert with regards to caring for a patient with dementia. It’s not an easy task and I hope that if I’m ever in the position, I will make the right decision for the patient, not myself.

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