Thursday, April 15, 2010

Caregiving When You Just Want to Run...

It’s one thing when you have a loving relationship with your elder, or at least get along with them. But what happens when you’re faced with having to face the cruel reality of caring for an aging parent who was an alcoholic or substance abuser, or an absent or abusive parent?

There are legal systems in place to assist you with this process. You can make your parent a ward of the court and grant the court guardianship or conservatorship over your elder so they can take charge in matters necessitating decisions that your elder is no longer capable of making. However, be aware that there can be some issues such as decisions about end-of-life care (i.e. Advanced Directives and a DNR) that the court will not make and in some cases may not be able to honor. This will vary from state to state.

If your parent has developed dementia, you may find that they are a very different person; perhaps much more mellow and even kind. If placed in an environment where substances are no longer accessible, the substance abusers will become sober. This doesn’t change or wipe away the memories, but it can make the situation more workable and less stressful for you.

One thing to understand is that whoever your parent was before, the person that the facility will come to know, and perhaps love, is a very different person. This is true for those who have had loving relationships with their parents or elders as well.

The son or daughter who can stand back and let their parent have a happy last few months or years in a setting where their past doesn’t count deserve recognition for their efforts. In hospice, we see this far more often than one might think. In offering support and condolences at the passing of the loved one, we’re quick to say that memories will comfort you, but in these cases it just isn’t so. Yet acknowledging the fact that they were able to make this possible for their parent should be valued. It’s not easy for any of us.

Resources:
www.seniorlegalhotline.org/pdf/conserv.pdf

www.expertlaw.com/library/estate.../conservatorship.html