Planning for your loved one’s care

Perhaps your parent has made a comment or two that they may need to make some changes in their life, or perhaps you noticed on your last visit home that mom just isn’t keeping up with the house cleaning and laundry. It might be hard to think of your parents as vulnerable, but it’s good to be realistic and to help them continue to be involved in planning their life.

Together, you, your siblings, and your parent can take the steps to find the best solution for your loved one’s needs, but don’t put it off. Trying to find important papers or determine just what insurance coverage is in place can be overwhelming if you are trying to deal with an emergency or sudden illness.

Use the following list as a starting point to gathering the important information and asking some important questions:

•  Take an inventory and get organized – Survey all the resources at the family’s disposal, including children, other relatives, neighbours and friends, as well as crucial documents and financial resources.

•  Prepare to be flexible – No matter what care options you choose, it’s likely that the alternative will have to be modified or even discarded in time. Be flexible. It’s unlikely that any resolution will be permanent.

•  Enlist a geriatric care manager – The geriatric care manager is a professional who assists families with problems or concerns. This person is there to help you, and your family, identify your needs and find ways to meet them.

•  Join a support group – To boost your self-assurance, consider joining a support group for caregivers in your community or online.

•  Review the estate planning process – A comprehensive, written estate plan designates a power of attorney for someone else to act on their behalf should they become incapacitated; sets out their wishes for medical treatment at the end of life; designates a health care proxy when they can no longer make choices on their own; and explains how they want their estate distributed upon their death.


•  Set a will in place, advanced directive and power of attorney – Make sure these documents are in place now to reflect your loved one’s wishes now. Knowing things will be taken care of as they wish can be a huge relief to an older adult.

•  Review insurance coverage – Find out what coverage is already in place – life insurance, private insurance and long-term insurance.

•  Determine who will contribute – How much can your older loved one contribute? How much are you and your siblings willing to pay for the care of your parents? Talk about this before an emergency occurs.

Asking these questions and having these conversations may seem easy, but all too often they are also easy to put off. Having the conversations now and doing your homework can lead to peace of mind for both you and your loved one.

Article courtesy of Home Instead Senior Care. For more information on geriatric syndromes, read Stages of Senior Care, by Paul and Lori Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care’s co-founders.

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