At a time when a quarter of households in this country are caring for an older family member we all need to have more information and a plan.
An old friend used to say there is no such thing as planned parenthood, because until you do it you have no idea what you're in for and therefore there is no way to plan!
Funny and True.
I am reminded of this daily sometimes hourly as I become more and more the parent to my parent. No time now to plan, have to improvise. Had I known or imagined this might be our reality some planning would have helped!
AARP has a guide which gives you structure and resources to begin this journey.
AARP recommends "You start the conversation early."
This isn't alway easy or possible as many parents will resist seeing themselves as ever needing assistance. In our case my mother was ill, bedridden and then in a nursing home for so many years, that our focus was almost exclusively on her needs. Although my Dad and I spent many hours together and I know he never wants to have to live the way my mother did at the end of her life, it wasn't until we began The Conversation Project that I began to know more details about his wishes. So we had the difficult talk about end of life care -BUT neglected the possibility that we should talk about his life after Mom dies!
What would my Dad's life be once he became a widower? We absolutely should have had that conversation.
You don't want to have to make important decisions in an emergency or under duress. Those situations are hard enough without the added pressure of having to act fast.
The grief and change in his daily life unglued my Dad. Even unglued he was very clear about what he did and did not want. He wanted to move to be near me and my daughter; even though it meant leaving a place he had lived for 50 years. I wish we had done some research and made an advance plan, it would have saved money, time and heart ache.
"Make a Plan" find the resources both personal and profession that you will need for both your parent and you, the caregiver. This can be quite complicated if there is not agreement among family members about what choices are best. As I get deeper and deeper into this process I find it "takes a village" and more! Getting the help you need is an every changing on going process. Having done some research about next steps can help a ease the way.
"Care for Yourself" this may be the hardest one. Time pressure and the essential nature of taking care of someone who can no longer take care of themselves may mean that finding the space for making sure you are ok is increasingly difficult.
to be continued ...