I discussed in a previous post that increasing numbers of individuals with intellectual disabilities are living into their 60’s. What is now being seen is that the aging process for that child — including diseases of old age such as dementia — may start occurring when they are in their 50’s. The parent(s) may be in their 70’s or 80’s, with health care problems or even dementia of their own. The child may be on the autism spectrum or have other developmental disa bilities. This combination poses urgent concerns for those who are caring for these family members or are aware of their situation.
Suppose the dependent adult child requires substantial hands-on physical assistance as well as safety oversight. The child may attend a group daytime program, and be cared for by their parent in the evening and weekends. The child may not attend any program and may receive all of his care from the parent. What if the parent now develops physical conditions that impair their ability to lift, carry, dress, or support the weight of their child? What if the parent can no longer drive to purchase the groceries or take their child to the doctor? What if the parent can’t climb stairs anymore due to weakness brought on by heart disease, COPD, or arthritis? What if the parent is losing their hearing, or losing their vision due to cataracts or macular degeneration? And what if the parent is becoming forgetful and confused due to the onset of some type of dementia? Who will care for the dependent adult child when the parent needs care?
It’s vital that parents develop practical plans to protect their dependent disabled children as the parents age. There are private services and there are government services. Avoiding the issue by assuming that one of the other children will shoulder the load isn’t practical. Having a family meeting with all the potential caregivers is practical. Acknowledging one’s true limitations isn’t a sign of defeat or failure, it’s a sign of love. I’ve often said “we respect our elders by planning for their care.” Planning for the future care of one’s dependent disabled child is a way to show your love, because you aren’t just leaving things up to chance. Investing in the services of a personal care manager such as a geriatric care manager is practical. Adding a home health aide to the household and helping the child adapt to the presence of this new adult is practical. And creating an estate plan that provides a roadmap for lifetime care is practical.
Call us for practical solutions to the challenges of aging and safeguarding your family’s wellbeing … 732-382-6070