December 3, 2014(407)

Event Planning Tips for the Caregivers of loved ones with Dementia

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The big day is approaching. You know what you are going to wear, you have taken the time off of work, you have already wrapped the gift….but what are you going to do with Mom? Before you talk yourself out of having a good time, PLAN on making it work! With a little attention to detail and a strategy in hand, both of you can enjoy this special affair.

EF 045Don’t do it alone! If you can, hire a caregiver to relieve you of the bulk of the responsibility for the outing. Arranging care through a reputable agency ensures that no matter what you can return that RSVP, confident that you get to be a part of the occasion. In the event that Mom is having one of her “bad days”, having a caregiver secured means you can go, even if Mom can’t.
YOU are the best caregiver for Mom but on special occasions, you get to pass that hat on to someone you trust. YOU DESERVE IT!

1. Make an agenda. It’s important to have a to-do list and schedule for the special day. Jot down Mom’s routine and plan accordingly. The TO-DO List: Make this first! Once you have your list, you can plan on how and when things need to be done considering the time it takes to accomplish them. (i.e. dressing, grooming, getting in the car)
The SCHEDULE: Allow time for error. No one wants to think of the “what-if’s” but if you allow time for…let’s say-an additional 15 minutes for toileting, you won’t have to panic when it happens. Plan on having the caregiver take Mom in her car so that you can arrive/leave on your time.

2. Get familiar with the occasion. Make sure you know what Mom is going to encounter. The more you know, the better you can plan for a pleasant experience. You should have a conversation with a key member of the event planning team so that you can ask the questions that will make everyone’s life easier (“Is it possible that we are seated close to a restroom?”, “Where is the best restroom for us?”, “Can you tell me what’s on the menu so I can plan for what Mom can have?”).

3. Call in a favor. Your caregiver (or yourself) may need to step away to use the restroom or to make a plate for Mom. Arrange for someone you know to be “plan B” so that you can enjoy the occasion and Mom is still in capable hands. It may be best that “Plan B” is seated with (or very close to) Mom. “Plan B” would only be expected to be temporary and brief relief, and may not even need to be called upon at all.

EF 0594. Pack a bag. It’s imperative that Mom has everything that she could possibly need on this venture. Be sure to have Mom’s medications (also the list of medications, phone numbers for her health care providers, and insurance cards), a change of clothes, incontinence care supplies (even if she doesn’t have accidents it’s better to be prepared for the “first” time), a sweater, lotion, chap stick, snacks, etc. If mom uses a specific cup or special eating utensils, you should include these items that she is familiar with for continuity. Depending on her stage of dementia, you may want to include items that will occupy her such as a magazine, small photo album, deck of cards, etc.

5. Print a duplicate copy of the agenda and MapQuest directions. Keep a copy of the to-do list/schedule and the directions that you give to Mom’s caregiv
er so that you are both on the same page. You may even want to include some “check in” times on the agenda so that you are staying abreast of Mom’s status as the event unfolds.

6. Use your cell. Use your cell phone to take a picture of Mom once she is all dolled up. It is not only nice to have the memory; it can be useful to have a picture of Mom handy if she wanders off into the crowd or onto the dance floor. Be sure to program the caregiver’s cell phone number in your phone and make sure that she has yours as well. It may be best to bring your cell phone charger-just in case you need it.

7. Have an exit strategy. Mom may want (or need) to leave before you are ready to end your night. Be sure to have a spare key for Mom’s caregiver so that she can leave the event without having to track you down. Have Mom’s supplies set up (before you leave home) so that the caregiver can get Mom in to bed with ease. Agree to an “end” time so that all parties are aware of the expectation.

8. Have a good time. You have done all of your homework to enjoy this special day. You do what it takes day in and day out to take care of someone that is very special to you. For this day, this occasion, set your worries aside and celebrate life with those that are dear to you. Take some time to look at Mom and enjoy that you are still making memories together. Smile and laugh from the inside out and be very proud of who she raised. You have both earned the right to have a good time. You BOTH deserve it!

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