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Choosing the Best
It's not unusual for a family caregiver to discover that an unexpected problem is all
the number of possible solutions.
After looking carefully at your care-receiver's
needs and the various ways to meet those needs, it may become clear
there is no single right choice. There may be many choices, each with
So which is best for him or her? How can you
be sure you and your loved one are making the right decision?
The following are basic principles used when
assisting someone who needs care. It can help a family to consider each
when trying to reach a decision.
● You're dealing with a whole person,
not simply one or two particular problems. It doesn't mean your loved
doing well just because he or she has a safe place to live and is eating all
For example, what about her health in
general? Is she getting the proper care?
What about he need to get out and socialize?
Does he have the opportunity to be a part of the community?
What about her spiritual needs? Can she get
to Mass? Does she still feel as if she's part of the parish?
● A care-receiver maintains the right
to be treated with dignity and respect. A solution should not
humiliate or embarrass your loved one. His or her privacy should
continue to be respected.
● Each care-receiver is an individual. Avoid
any "cookie-cutter" approaches. Just because one particular
choice worked best for your neighbor's family doesn't
automatically mean the same will be best for yours. Just because one
solution was the best fit five years ago doesn't automatically
make it right today.
It's so easy for a family to fall into the
trap of thinking, "This is how we did it with Grandma, so this
must be how we need to do it with Mom." Yes, it may be the
best way but then again, it may not.
To use another comparison, the best-fitting
solutions, like the best-fitting suits, are tailor-made, not bought
off the rack or hand-me-downs.
● It's important your loved one is
involved in the decision making and that means keeping him or her in
when information is being gathered. He or she should participate in the
It also means there are no secrets. (For
example, it is not
uncommon for a family to want to hide or disguise the cost of a
particular service (home care, for example) because "Dad won't like it.")
Invariably, keeping secrets, withholding information, or telling
little white lies backfires.
● Closely related to that
participation, is self-determination. This means that, even if you strongly
disagree with your loved one, she maintains the right to make her own decisions.
There are exceptions when intervention is
necessary, such as significant dementia or attempted suicide, but
remember the exceptions are rare, not the norm. Just because you don't
like your loved one's choice doesn't mean he or she no longer has the right to
make that choice.
Perhaps no solution will perfectly match all
the principles, but often the best choice for your loved one -- for
your parent, spouse, child, other family members or friend -- is the one
that comes closest.
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