As your parents age, it becomes increasingly important to know more about them than ever before. This need is met with a sticky web of parent and child roles as well as privacy versus intrusion issues!
How does an adult child begin to navigate these treacherous waters? Very slowly if the situation allows, however some children find that due to a medical emergency they and their family are forced into reality and they need to make many decisions with very little information.
Starting conversations with our parents should begin with the expression that you want to see that their desires are followed but first you need to have a road map. You may use others as examples of how things went well or did not go well and how it made you wonder about your own parents wishes. Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment or words, there are no such things. Just start small and somewhere. Remind them that the goal is to maintain their independence.
Here are some topics that are critical for adult children to have with their parents:
What are their medications, doctors, Medical and financial Power of attorney, housing safety renovations/equipment, services available at home, housing options, Medicare, Medicaid, where are the important papers, and do not resuscitate orders.
The following are topics that adult children will find very helpful to know something about: what is normal aging versus something that requires a medical evaluation, legal issues, what to expect in transitioning from hospital to home, how to be an advocate for your parents, how family dynamics play into assisting with their parents, care giving and the resources available, and dementia care assessment and care options.
There are many information sites on the web but if you are looking for a professional that could help you one on one, you may wish to seek out a social worker either at the local Department of Human Services, nursing home social worker, or a Geriatric Care Manager. These folks can help with assessing your family’s particular needs and advise you on your local community’s resources.
Caring for our aging relatives in this ever changing high tech medical model world is very challenging. You will be able to prevent some poor out comes if you took the time now to find out more while you are not being faced with a crisis.
Editor’s Note:This article was submitted by: Paula McCormick LSW Licensed Geriatric Social Worker with Columbine Caregivers and Elder Quest Care Management Services. She may be reached at 970-985-5950 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.