Government agencies, nonprofit organizations and the media have focused increasing attention on the needs of seniors and those who provide them with support, assistance or care. Less attention has been focused on the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) older adults and in particular, their caregivers, whether partners, friends or other family members. Many of the issues you or your loved one may confront—such as where to turn for help, what kinds of programs can support caregivers, how to access services—overlap with those faced by heterosexuals.
The diagnosis of a dementing illness marks a new stage in your life and your family’s life. Challenging decisions and important choices arise, along with uncertainty and often confusion, anxiety or fear. Some decisions might need to be made right away. Others lie ahead. The best future for you and your family depends on understanding what is most important to each of you. Recognizing and communicating your personal values about everyday care enables you and your family to make the right choices, one by one, as the situation changes.
Support or "self-help" groups are formed by people who share common concerns. The groups may be participant-initiated or sponsored by a health care institution, social services agency or nonprofit organization.
A degenerative or terminal illness, or an accident involving a family member, is a traumatic experience for spouse, parents, children and other relatives. Support groups allow those facing the difficult task of daily caregiving to benefit from interaction and support from other people in similar situations.
The best everyday care choices for the person diagnosed with a dementing illness, and for loved ones giving care, depend on an understanding of values and care preferences. Examples of everyday care choices include when to stop driving, how to manage money, whether to purchase or use support services, when to accept care from family members and, at a more personal level, when to bathe and what activities to do.
When an individual is diagnosed with dementia, one of the first concerns that families and caregivers face is whether or not that person should drive. A diagnosis of dementia may not mean that a person can no longer drive safely. In the early stages of dementia, some – though not all – individuals may still possess skills necessary for safe driving. Most dementia, however, is progressive, meaning that symptoms such as memory loss, visual-spatial disorientation, and decreased cognitive function will worsen over time.
One of the hardest things about life is recognizing its various parts. I mean, we never really notice pregnant women until our wife becomes one, or the plight of the handicapped until we break an ankle or leg, and crutches help us see more clearly.