As National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16th is an ideal time to sit down with your mom to discuss her goals and wishes. When she’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you should get legal protections in place while she can make decisions and about set up Alzheimer’s care services.
Once she’s incapacitated, it’s the only way to avoid having the courts make decisions about her care and finances. As part of this discussion and decision-making process, you need to ask her about her healthcare wishes. An advance directive is important as it lays out the things she does and doesn’t want in different situations.
It’s important to learn as much about your mom’s health as you can. Does she have allergies to anything that you don’t already know? She may not have ever told you that she has an allergy to penicillin because she’s always alerted her doctors.
If she’s unable to speak for herself, you’d have to answer questions like that. You’d need to know if she has any allergies if she’s had surgeries that led to pins or plates in her body, or if she has a family history of certain medical conditions.
Speaking of her family history, do you know what health issues your grandparents had? Not many people do, yet it can be very important. You know your grandfather had cancer when he was young, but what kind of cancer?
Some cancer screenings are recommended at earlier ages if there’s a family history. It may not matter to your mom at this point, but it will matter to you, your siblings, and any children.
Ventilation and Feeding Tubes
If your mom struggled to breathe, would she want to be put on a ventilator? Chances are high that she would be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but if she was in the end stages and was bedridden, she might not want any of those life-saving measures.
At the same time, ask her if she has a DNR on file with her doctors and area hospitals. If not, does she want to take those steps?
In the end stages of Alzheimer’s, your mom won’t be able to swallow. She risks choking and that can lead to aspiration pneumonia. If she develops this life-threatening disease, would she want to be treated with heavy doses of antibiotics or kept comfortable?
If she’s no longer eating on her own, would she want an invasive feeding tube through an abdominal port or nasogastric tube? As there’s a chance she’ll pull the tube out, she needs to carefully decide how she feels.
Lay out your mom’s healthcare wishes before you arrange Alzheimer’s care. In the latter stages of the disease, your mom will need special care as she loses mobility, the ability to swallow, and bladder and bowel control. An Alzheimer’s care aide can help you take the best possible care of her for all aspects of personal care and companion care.
If you or a loved one are considering Alzheimer’s Care Services near Lancaster City PA, contact the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Lancaster. Call today at (717) 205-2174.
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