Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Time is Not On Your Caregiving Side

Time is not on your caregiving side

by Joy Loverde

If you don’t make good use of your time when you are gathered together as family during this holiday season, you will never ever get that kind of quality time to make plans for the future with your aging parents. In the eldercare world, change happens quickly. If you choose to say and do nothing this time of year, you lose. There is a reason why my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner is over 350 pages long. THERE’S A LOT OF STUFF TO PLAN FOR AND TALK ABOUT right now.

The possibility that your parents may need the family’s help down the road is real. And while it may be difficult to think about the day you hope will never come, doing nothing to plan for family caregiving responsibilities will leave the entire family in even worse shape — emotionally, financially and otherwise.

As a rule, family holiday gatherings are not the ideal time to discuss parent-care issues or to resolve them. Besides, who wants to spoil the festive atmosphere by talking about a potential hotbed of depressing emotional issues such as eldercare?

Instead of trying to talk to your parents about their future well being during family holiday visits, try these three tips instead:

1. Before the holiday family visit – pick up the phone and call your siblings. Tell them of any present and future concerns you may have about your parents. Let them know how you feel about the importance of planning ahead should anything happen to Mom or Dad. Make a specific request that when everybody is together in person that they join you in looking and listening for clues that your parents may need help sooner rather than later.

2. During holiday family visits – the most efficient use of physically being together is watching for tell-tale signs that problems may exist. Are your parents walking slower or having difficulty climbing stairs? Are you sensing they are becoming more forgetful? Do you suspect they are having trouble making ends meet financially?

3. After the holidays – Arrange a family meeting – over the phone or in-person, and discuss your observations with your siblings; then make a date to talk with your parents about your concerns.

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