Aging is a natural part of life, both for ourselves, and our loved ones. It’s important to think about what your future will look like when it comes time to care for an aging parent or loved one. Here are five tips to assist you in preparing to take on the role of caregiver to your aging loved ones.
Talk About It
First and foremost, it will be essential to have an open and honest conversation about what is required. While it can be a difficult topic to address, the more you talk about it the easier it will get. Always have the discussion of aging with your loved ones while they are in great physical and mental health so you’re obtaining an accurate representation of their feelings. Holding a family meeting where parents and caregivers can discuss options in an honest and respectful manner is a great way to approach this. Discuss daily living needs, health care struggles or concerns, financial security, and legal rights. Give your loved ones the opportunity to let their wishes be heard.
When you take on a caregiver role it’s important you obtain all necessary information that you’ll need to handle their affairs. Some examples of information you’ll need are: copies of your parents’ insurance policies (health, life, auto, home), social insurance or social security numbers, extended health benefits (ex. Seniors Blue Cross), housing information (mortgage(s), rental costs, utilities, etc), RRSP’s and bank accounts and more. Also, compile a list of doctor’s names, preferred health facilities, medications and health conditions with your loved one, and suggest they add you to their files at doctors/specialist’s offices, so you can make phone calls, ask questions, receive test results and more on their behalf.
Review Legal Options
Having legal provisions in place can ensure your parent’s wishes are followed when it comes to their assets and care. These legal provisions also give you the ability to step in if they become unable to make decisions for themselves. Be sure your parents have a will and a living will in place and that you have copies of each. These will dictate what to do with their assets and communicate their end of life desires when the time comes. Your parents should also appoint someone as a power of attorney which will give you or someone else the power to make medical, financial and legal decisions for your parents should they be unable to make those decisions for themselves.
While having this discussion with your parents, be sure to make a list of resources that you may need in the future. Include meal preparation services, personal care support, quality of life support (nurses, counselors, respite care, etc), transportation options and more. Having these resources compiled in advance can help reduce the stress when they become necessary.
Call on a Professional
The emotional aspect of caring for an aging parent can be extremely difficult to comprehend at certain points. Working directly with a care manager or asking for assistance is always a good idea as the weight of caregiving becomes heavier on your shoulders.
When it comes to caring for your aging parents, there are going to be ups and downs but being prepared can make the downs a lot less stressful and easier to manage. Do you have any other tips to share to help others prepare for their caregiver responsibilities?