Is caregiving for your parents expected in your family? For many, it is.
It’s a natural progression where eventually, as an adult child, your parents need you. They fall. They wind up in the hospital with a chronic condition. Or you suddenly notice they need some help when you spend some time in their home.
And for even more, no matter how much it’s “expected,” it still comes as quite a shock when you find yourself investing hours each week to keep them safe. How do you prepare for something like caregiving?
If you’re reading this, you’re already moving in the right direction.
1. Be Proactive
It’s almost impossible to work together and come up with solutions when you’re in crisis mode. It’s much easier to have adult conversations when everything is relatively okay.
Call a family meeting, especially if there is going to be more than you involved in the caregiving process. Get all of your siblings involved.
This shouldn’t be about what you’re taking away from your parents. Instead, make the initial conversation about how your parents can stay as independent as possible.
2. Develop a plan
As you move through their wishes, also spend some time mapping about a plan. You can dive into whatever is comfortable for your family. However, the more you touch on, the easier it will be to refer back to when you need it.
This is where you can get their opinions on things like where they want to live, what to do in a health crisis, where important documents are, what types of insurance do they have, and where financial information is located. You can move through “best case/worst case” scenarios to read your parents’ wishes. They may be more apt to talk when they aren’t facing these situations.
3. Get legal advice
Hopefully, your plan will push them into taking action. If they haven’t updated their wills in a while, use this as a nudge to get it done. If they haven’t created living wills, work with an attorney to fill one out.
4. Respect their wishes
This is one of the most challenging parts about moving into a caregiving role: this is about them, not about you. It’s difficult to watch parents move into this next stage of life. It’s important to honor them by respecting what they truly desire. You may want to try everything to keep them near you, but if you have a plan in place and understand their desires, it’s equally important to ensure you do things the way they wish them to be done.
5. Build your support team
While you’re starting your caregiving role by discovering all you can to help your parents, find resources for yourself too. This is a difficult journey for everyone. The best way to move through the process is if you take good care of you also. That means finding the tools and resources you need to help your mind, body, and soul throughout the process.
What questions do you have as you move into the caregiving role?