Friday, September 4, 2015

What Happens When The Caregiver Passes Before The Patient?

Can you go on with your life after your loved one is gone? This is a question that all of us face when a loved one passes. 
It's a bit different for a dementia patient. I could not go on if God forbid something would happen to Phyllis June. Imagine the grief one goes through at the time of a love one passing, then try to imagine going through this as a patient. To put it bluntly you can't unless you are a patient. 
When this happens the patient has to immediately rely on someone else. Who is that someone to be? We patients rely on our spouse, children, etc. to do so much for us that when the passing of a spouse happens before the passing of a patient, it would be devastating. 
Take for instance finances. I haven't a clue who we owe, how much we, or what banks we make payments to. I haven't a clue when these payments are due, and even if I did I would never remember to make these payments. I have no idea when our water payment is due, when our Direct TV is due, or when we pay for the paper to be delivered. 
I wouldn't have the foggiest idea of how to get things in order for the end of the year taxes to done, nor would I even know what is needed to begin to deal with such things. 
Many of you will think if you lose a spouse, making payments is the last thing you would be worried about, that things like that doesn't matter at time like this. But, the bills keep coming, and have to be paid.
In most cases, this is simply an impossible task for a dementia patient to face. That and trying to deal with the realization that your spouse is gone is unimaginable to me. 
I rely on my wife for everything. I haven't a clue how to get the tags on our vehicles renewed. I haven't a clue how to do a checkbook. I haven't a clue what taxes we owe, insurance, or anything of that nature. 
Again, a lot of this most would not even think about, but trust me even after someone you love with all your heart passes, the rest of the world does not stop. 
We talk about having a plan, then have another. How many of you have even thought of what would happen to your loved one who is suffering from dementia, if God forbid you were suddenly killed in a car wreck or suffered a massive heart attack?
We need to think about things like this and yes have some course of action. For us, if I die everything goes to Phyllis June, and vice versa if she would pass before me. Then our daughter is next if something would happen to the two of us together such as a car wreck.
But what about the daily needs of the dementia patient when their caregiver dies? What happens? Who's going to take over? Can the patient, like me stay alone?
I could stay by myself at this time. And that could last for several years yet, or as we know that could change in a moments notice. It isn't like our daughter would have to be here daily to check on me.
However, like I said, you have to have things in place financially. Someone has to know your financial situation, what you, who you owe it to and on and on.
We have enough life insurance and things in place if something happens all will be paid off, or at least most of it. But again, what happens then. I still need to pay the electric bill, the gas, the taxes, and on and on.
Know one wants to think about things like this. But it happens. Many times the caregiver passes before the patient. We all know this, we all have heard stories of some caregivers passing from stress related problems, heart attacks, etc.
But what you don't hear is what happens to the patient? Are they capable of staying alone? Some patients are. But would they be after going through such a traumatic incident as burying their spouse?
The problem now becomes, the patient or even the caregiver doesn't want anyone knowing their personal finances, or what they have. So even bringing this up can be a huge issue.
This is not the time for secrecy. But, many of our parents come from a proud and private generation to where it's just not any of your business how much money they have in the bank, what CD's they may have, who they owe, etc.
Adult children of a dementia patient need to be brought up to speed as to what the plan is if Mom who is healthy as a horse, and no sign of dementia suddenly drops over dead from a heart attack.
What do you do with Dad now? Where will he go? Can he possibly stay by himself? Would some sort of home heath nursing be appropriate? Would he allow this?
And all of these questions will arise before the funeral arrangements are even made for the caregiver who just passed.
Think about this. I know today is the day we all get ready for the weekend, and we have a holiday this Monday. The family will be together, what better time to discuss this then with all the family there?
It has to be done. This is one of those thing that you either do it now, or do it later under unbelievable stress. Take the time. At least bring it up. One day this could be the most important discussion you will look back and say you are so thankful you had with your family.
In closing, I want to wish all of you a very safe Labor Day weekend. Remember your loved one may not be able to tolerate all the chaos that goes along with family gatherings.
Try to keep the kids at an inside voice level while they are in the house.
Just be aware. How your loved one was once during Labor Day weekends is no longer the way they are now. You have to go into their world, they cannot function in yours anymore.
Have a safe and uneventful holiday.
© 2015 Rick Phelps