Millions of people across the country are currently part of the “sandwich generation” They are caring for their children and simultaneously caring for an elderly parent. Despite the fact that so many people are struggling to handle this responsibility, there are very few resources that caregivers can use for support. This article highlights six things that a caregiver can do to prepare for some of the most common stressful situations that occur with elder care.
Have a Talk with Your Parents
Before cognitive issues or even caregiving needs arise, you should sit down and have a conversation with your parents about everything regarding their care. You should discuss their wants and needs regarding caregiving as well as review their finances, estate plan, health issues, end-of-life decisions, and more.
In addition to having a talk, take that time to update any important documents necessary to your parents’ care. This includes wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare proxy forms, and living wills. This not only prepares you for caregiving but also updates all financial companies, government organizations, medical professionals, and more about your parents’ care. Updating documents early is also important because if cognitive issues arise, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, then your parent may be deemed mentally incompetent to manage their affairs.
Complete a Medicine List
One of the most important things to know as a caregiver is what medications your parent is currently taking. In the case of an emergency where they cannot communicate to medical professionals what they are on, your parent could be misdiagnosed or given a medication that could cause complications. Even in a normal situation, elderly parents tend to have more than one doctor, and without a current list of medications one doctor could give a drug that counteracts another.
Ensure Access to Information
Make sure that as a caregiver you can get access to information and documentation when you need it. HIPAA laws, regulations, and company policies may forbid you from accessing your parents’ information without their consent. Be sure to get authorization from all necessary parties regarding their information, and also remember to be added on as an authorized user to any bank safety deposit boxes if forms are being kept in there.
Review Parental Finances
As awkward as it is for some people to talk to their parents about money, it is important to review your parents’ finances in order to plan for future care. By anticipating future costs and planning ahead, you can try to prevent your parents from outliving their money and being forced to live on public funds or your money.
Research Care Providers and Living Situations
Finally, put some time into researching care providers and different living situations that your parents would be comfortable with. Discuss how comfortable they would be with being admitted to a hospital, rehab center, nursing home, assisted living community, independent living community, or hospice care. This can save everyone time, money, and stress when an emergency arises. In addition, researching these things ahead of time allows your parents to give their input and makes them feel in charge of their own care.