Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging

Frequently Asked Questions

You may see the word FAQ when you are surfing the internet. This stands for "Frequently Asked Questions." This is the page to see what other caregivers are asking, and get some ideas to apply to caregiving!

My loved one is becoming more forgetful. How can I tell the difference between normal memory lapses and a more serious problem?

The Alzheimer's Association has developed a list of 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease. They are:

  1. Memory loss affecting job skills
  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  3. Problems with language
  4. Disorientation to time and place
  5. Poor or decreased judgment
  6. Problems with abstract thinking
  7. Misplaces things
  8. Mood and behavior changes
  9. Changes in personality
  10. Loss of initiative

If you think your loved one's memory loss is more serious than usual, or if your loved one has several of the above signs, please consult a doctor.

I live very far away from my loved one needing care. How can I be a caregiver from such a long distance?

Long-distance caregiving can be a hard task, but it is possible for many families. Good places to start are the Area Agency on Aging in your loved ones area, a geriatric assessment team, and doing some research in your loved ones area. Getting a copy of the telephone book, names and telephone numbers of neighbors, friends and loved ones around your loved one, and some planning are all good steps as well. The more information you have, and the more planning you do, the more successful your caregiving will be.

I have heard the term "Respite." What is this?

Respite is giving yourself a break. It can be getting away for the day, reading a book, or a facility stay for your loved one. The important thing to remember is respite is time for you to recharge. Every caregiver needs to look into respite if they are having a hard or stressful time with their caregiver duties.

My loved one is still driving. How do I know when it's time for them to hang up the keys? How do I get them to accept that they should not be driving anymore?

This is a common, and difficult situation. A place to start is the AARP. They offer a training course title "55 alive" for drivers to improve skills behind the wheel. AARP also offers the following self-quiz on driving:

  1. Do you sometimes say "whew, that was close?"
  2. At times, do cars seem to appear from nowhere?
  3. At intersections, do care sometimes proceed when you felt you had the right-of-way?
  4. Are gaps in traffic harder to judge?
  5. Do others honk at you?
  6. After driving, do you feel physically exhausted?
  7. Do you think you are slower than you used to be in reacting to dangerous driving situations?
  8. Have you had an increased number of near accidents in the past year?
  9. Do you find it difficult to decide when to join traffic on a busy interstate highway?
  10. Do intersections bother you because there is so much to watch for in all directions?

Asking these questions, and receiving a yes to one or more, may indicate near misses in driving and should help you determine if driving by your loved one should be stopped.

Some tips on how to get your loved one to stop driving are:

  1. Call the Department of Motor Vehicles and ask what the state laws are regarding older drivers, and ask for their advice on the matter of your loved one.
  2. Use the doctor's orders to stop them from driving. Eye exams are very useful for seeing if your loved one's eye sight is poor enough to warrant taking away the keys.
  3. Try reasoning with your loved one. If you feel that they are endangering people when they drive, let them know that. Let them know that you feel that you think they could hurt someone else on the road if they continue driving.

I feel like I cannot be a caregiver anymore, or I just want a break. Does this make me a bad caregiver?

NOT AT ALL. All caregivers are doing a service for their loved ones. Caregivers need to worry about how they are caring for themselves as much as caring for their care recipients. Caregiving is hard, and breaks, or respite are very necessary for the good of all involved. You owe it to yourself to worry about you first, then your care recipient. If you are sick, or burned out, stressed, or just overwhelmed, and cannot give care anymore, then no one is being taken care of. Do not let yourself and your interests, concerns of your own health, or your families go unaddressed. There is a happy balance - you just need to find it.