Social Worker Darby Morhardt explains when it is a good time to take hold of a situation when dealing with patient who has Alzheimer's disease.
And that is one of the questions that I get constantly is how, “When do I do for my parent? When do I step in, and how much do I let them continue to be as independent as possible? When do they stop driving? When can they stop living alone?” They may insist that they are fine and doing well, but as the disease progresses, they lose the ability to recognize when they need help. So, that always creates a lot of confusion for family members, and this ambiguity of what do I do and when do I step in.
So I think that, again, there’s no right or wrong answers to this. It’s just that it’s important to recognize that this is going to be the struggle that you as a family need to kind of balance over time. You need to understand how much risk you are comfortable with maintaining. Those, you know, people who don’t have Alzheimer’s disease, we engage in risk-taking behavior all the time, but we are in charge of what risks we take.
People with Alzheimer’s disease have less ability to really gauge what those risks are. So as the disease progresses, you are going need to become more and more involved in that person’s life.
One of the things that I find that I tell people to do is to get that good healthcare team, and while you need that, a good, like if you have a neurologist, neuropsychologist, social worker, you need to have someone that you can call, and you don’t necessarily need to see them once a month or once every, or go weekly for this help, but to have someone that you can just pick up the phone and call when you need to is really ideal so that you can talk over these very, very difficult issues.
About Darby Morhardt, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.:
Darby Morhardt is a research associate professor, the Director of Education, and a clinical research social worker at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her research interests include early stage and Younger Onset dementia programs and services, the dynamics and functioning of caregiving families, the subjective experience of Alzheimer's disease, and primary care physician education.