March 8, 2011

Caring for Elderly Parents or Relatives

Talk with your parent(s) while they are able to make decisions and prepare the way legally for their care. If you are the only child or the trusted child, make sure that they have legal documents in place so that you can obtain copies if necessary. Know what your limitations and rights are.

Your parents, in-laws, or close relative will be the central characters in your planning process. You need to first discover what their wishes and ideas are for how they want to live out their last years. All decisions must involve them and, as much as possible, revolve around and incorporate their wishes and desires.

Make sure that the safety and well-being of your parent(s) are the most important issue. It is important to help them within the realm of their desires within safe parameters and finances will determine the success. Do not wait until a crises to try to do this as alternatives may be limited and following their desires may not be possible. Hopefully, they will have a living will and other legal documents to facilitate their wishes.

If you have many siblings, getting everyone together may be difficult during the planning stage. Even then some decisions may need to be made. The parents need to be heard and if this is not done, many of the siblings may be shut out by them because they know what they want, desire, and what may not be possible. Allowing each family member to be heard is always a good idea and then the one put in charge by the parents will know where cooperation can be expected.

If this has not been discussed prior, the discussion should include options if they are not able to live in their own home. Find out if there are finances allowing for each option, a nursing home, board and care homes, or assisted living facilities. While they are able to live at home, will they need assistance and at what level.

It is also a fact that family members may see things differently than their parents. This is where parents often decide to leave all children out of the planning and select the one they trust to fulfill their wishes. So allowing everyone a voice may not be the best, but should be the best option. In any discussion, be sure to include end-of-life issues.

Make informed decisions, learn where to find information, and the options you will have in caring for your parent(s), or other relatives. If you are the one in charge, how will you handle caring for your family, your parent(s), and time for yourself. Will your spouse be able to handle some of the responsibilities? This is important to know on the front side rather then well into a problem.

Make sure that you have the support of your family and do not forget to take care of yourself, because you know that others are depending on you.

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