Despite the fact that millions of Americans are facing elder care challenges and struggles, there are not a lot of supportive and informative resources that can prepare families for what to expect. Getting access to information, demystifying the role of elder care, and learning what is ahead can lighten the load for those just beginning their journey.
A recent Forbes article, “6 Things Caregivers Must Do While There's Still Time,” explains that many family caregivers are part of what’s called “the sandwich generation.” They’ve just stopped caring for their own kids and now have to start to care for parents or older relatives.
The article suggests that families that are just “starting out on their elder care journey can pack their ‘suitcase’ ahead of time” to make sure that they’re ready to go when decisions need to be made, and the important information and documents are required. Forbes gives some suggestions to help get ready for common stressful situations that happen in elder care:
- Make Up a Detailed List of Medicine for Your Parent(s). Misdiagnosis happens when a senior is unable to communicate what medicines they are taking (or prescribed) to medical providers.
- You Must Have "The Talk" with Your Parents. Long before memory problems might occur, talk to your parents about their wants, needs, financial resources, health issues, and end-of-life decisions. The article encourages you to be persistent and supportive so the choices they make are clear.
- Update the Documents. Make sure that your parents’ important legal, financial, and health care documents are reviewed and updated in advance of possible health and cognitive issues. This should be done on a regular basis.
- Do You Have Access to Their Important Information and Documents? It’s important that you keep documents in a safe deposit box so that you can get to them.
- Review Your Parents’ Assets, Income and Expenses. With this you can anticipate future costs. You don’t want them to outlive their money and have trouble affording necessary care. Their income and assets should have some flexibility to access resources if their care needs change.
- Research the Care Providers and Living Situations Your Parents Want. Before the care is really needed, the article advises that you find out where your parents want to go if being admitted to a hospital, nursing home, or other care facility. This will save you some headaches during a financial or medical crisis.
Finally, try to respect your parents’ independence and be supportive and ready to help them with their needs as they age.
Reference: Forbes (May 28, 2015) “6 Things Caregivers Must Do While There's Still Time”