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How to prepare for caring for a parent

It’s the stage in the life which most of us dread. The day we all realise our parents or parent can no longer look after themselves.

It’s hard for them too. Losing their independence. Their ability to complete the simplest of tasks, such as taking a shower or shopping for groceries. So, to prepare them – and you – for that dreaded day, it’s a good idea to lay out a plan and prepare yourself for the day you may have to start caring for a parent.

Have a conversation before it’s time

The time to get ready was yesterday. Unfortunately, we don’t all have a crystal ball and sometimes life can throw up huge unexpected events such as illness. But sometimes it doesn’t happen suddenly. Sometimes it’s just the little things you start to notice – they forget to take their medication, you start to notice they aren’t socialising as much, or they’re getting confused more often.

If you start to notice these things, it’s probably a good idea to have the talk now. Ask them what they would prefer. Talk to them about what they wish for their future living arrangements.

Make a list of topics you want to talk through which will (hopefully) not only ease tensions but also ensure you don’t forget anything. Getting it all out in the open upfront will ensure that you can respect their wishes as much as possible when the going gets tough.

Discuss their living arrangements

Talk to each other about what they would want and about what you’re prepared to give. There are many options to choose from depending on what their illness or situation is. By discussing all your needs openly and honestly, you’ll be able to set clear (and very important) boundaries from the start. The options are:

-Assisted living – they live in their own private apartment but share meals and scheduled activities with other residents. This will often include transportation, housekeeping, laundry, medication assistance, and some help with dressing and bathing if needed.

- Memory care – this is specifically for those with a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s. It’s assisted living but with specialised staff who can manage the changes that come with memory loss.

-Nursing home – suited to those with complex medical conditions, your parent would receive 24-hour care from licensed nurses.

-In-home care – this helps them stay in a familiar environment, their own home. You hire a carer to come and help them with as much as they need. From simply helping with the shopping to round-the-clock care and supervision.

-Your home – you may choose for one or both of your parents to move into your home, so you can give them the care they need.

The paperwork

Once you’ve had the conversation and you’re planning for the future, it’s important to be prepared legally and financially. Put together a master folder of all their important documents – marriage certificates, financial assets information, life insurance policies, illness cover, Medicare details etc.

Next, talk to them about their will. Do they have one and what are their final wishes? Having these conversations now will hopefully avoid any fighting amongst family.

Most importantly of all, you want to understand their medical wishes. Would they want to be resuscitated? Are they on the donor list? What are their views on blood transfusions and dialysis. You want your parents to outline their wishes clearly when they are well, so that you and your siblings (if you have any) can make medical decisions on their behalf if you need to.


Article provided by Absolute Care & Health