Over the next several days, I will share stories and interviews about the journey my siblings and I are taking with our aging parents. I’ll post several short video interviews of my mom and dad. Many of you are currently on this journey. And many have already completed this journey. I welcome your comments at the end of each post. Just click on the comment link.
If you have an EAP program at your place of employment, contact them for services associated with aging.
As we live increasingly longer lives, more and more of us are finding that our loved ones need ongoing and long-term care. This care often falls to grown children, individuals in their forties, fifties, and sixties who are busy with work and often times have children still at home. Most of us have heard of “getting caught in this care-giving sandwich,” but it can be a real emotional and financial burden. This is especially true if you are new to the responsibility.
If you are about to become a caregiver, here are a few things that you might want to consider. First, you’ll need to think about some legal and financial matters. To provide good care for an elder loved one, it may be necessary to deal with care facilities, insurance, powers of attorney, and many more complex issues.
Figuring Out What Needs to Be Done
The following is a checklist that can help you determine what your loved one may need. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Simply use it to make your own list of things to do or to research, if necessary. Then you’ll be in a better position to ask others for help with the short and long-term tasks.
Remember also, there may be many terms or phrases used in the information below that you are not familiar with. Again, don’t be overwhelmed. A simple call to the HealthQuest EAP can be a real “clarifier,” and a great place to start. You can get an eldercare expert to help at no charge!
Type of Care Needed
To determine the types of care your loved one may require, ask yourself the following questions:
What kind of care does my loved one need now and how will that change in the future?
Could my loved one be taken care of at home if he or she had help from a skilled nurse and/or a health aide?
Would assisted living be appropriate for my loved one?
Will he or she require a skilled nursing facility now or in the future?
Does my loved one’s mental condition require him or her to have special care and housing?
Health Insurance and Medicare
The following questions will help you understand what kind of health care coverage your loved one has or may need:
What are the likely costs of the care my loved one will need?
What do Medicare & Medicaid cover?
What kind of health insurance does my love one have, and what does it cover?
What if my loved one doesn’t have long-term care insurance? Does he or she need it?
Taking Over Finances and Decisions
The time may come when you or family members need to make basic financial and health care decisions for your loved one. Be sure to get answers to these questions:
Does my loved one have a living will (advance health care directive) or power of attorney for finances? If not, how can I help get the necessary documents?
Is my loved one no longer capable of making his or her own decisions or consenting to a power of attorney?
Finally, here are some important issues to consider about wills and other arrangements at the end of life:
Does my loved one have a will? If not, how can I help them create a legally binding will?
Has my loved one communicated any wishes for final ceremonies and the disposition of his or her body?
Has my loved one shared information on where to find important documents and passwords regarding bank accounts, retirement accounts, safe deposit boxes, stocks, life insurance policies, and wills or trusts?
Get Personalized Help
After you’ve reviewed the list above and have an idea of the tasks and issues involved, take a deep breath and remember that you can get the help you need. To begin, you can encourage your loved one to be as involved as possible in his or her care. Avoid taking control of tasks that your loved one can still perform. The more your loved one is allowed to do, the longer he or she will be able to maintain a sense of ownership over the course of his or her own life.
Then, make some phone calls. Your employer’s EAP program is a good place to start.
Finally, remember that caring for an elder relative is not easy, and you deserve all of the support you can get. During the hard times, it might help to remember that what you are doing is noble and generous. Whether or not your loved one is able to express it, he or she is fortunate to have someone who is willing and able to do the job you’ve taken on.