Tips for taking care of mom and dadForget the old joke about being nice to your kids because they will be the ones who pick out your nursing home. The vast majority of Americans grow old in their own communities. People want to be where their family and friends are. There is no way that anyone is ever completely prepared.
By: Mary Krueger, Douglas County Senior Coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press
Forget the old joke about being nice to your kids because they will be the ones who pick out your nursing home.
The vast majority of Americans grow old in their own communities. People want to be where their family and friends are. There is no way that anyone is ever completely prepared.
Here are 10 questions that sons and daughters can ask their parents so they can be better future caregivers:
How, and when, should we talk about this? The answer is now. While not an easy subject to approach, talking with your loved ones about caregiving is better than waiting until something actually happens.
What are some of the ways you can prepare? In Douglas County, contact the Douglas County Public Health Senior Office for information regarding services in our area – (320) 762-3047. In other areas contact your local Area Agency on Aging or look in the phone book for local resources.
When, or at what level of care, should you step in? This is a hard one. As a general rule, it’s when safety becomes an issue. If your family member is living alone, are they a danger to themselves or others? I get a lot of questions about when to have “the talk” about driving. Again, the answer is safety, for themselves and all people on the road.
What will the living situation be? Most recommend a trial run before selling houses and making permanent moves. Take your parents to visit different living situations before it’s time for the necessary move.
Take senior housing tours, open houses, etc. Find out what they like and don’t like. Ask residents what they like/don’t like about a facility.
How will they pay for long-term care? Medicare and private health insurance do not pay for long-term care. Find out if they have long-term care insurance and how it works. Get an attorney’s advice about elder law.
Do you have the right legal measures in place? Make sure there is a power of attorney and advance directive in place. Remember, they are two separate issues.
Who makes up the community surrounding you and your parents? There are many caregiving support systems throughout the area. In Douglas County you can attend the Caregiver Support Group at First Lutheran Church on the second Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. There is also a Memory Care Support Group from 1 to 3 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month at the Douglas County Public Works building.
Try one out – you will be surprised at how much help these groups can provide.
Do you know how to be an advocate? You need to be an advocate for your loved one. Maintain open and regular communication with their doctor. Learn what medications they take and keep their doctor aware of what is going on. You may also need to speak with insurance companies and agents.
Are you prepared to take care of yourself while caring for your loved ones? Get outside help. Know what is available. Don’t try to do it all yourself. You will be the one to suffer.
What do you need to know about elder law? Get a good elder law attorney to help you through the maze of issues that will come up.
Most of all, sit back and enjoy this time with your parents. You both deserve it.