Preparing for eldercare can be a sensitive issue. Adapting to changing roles and having someone new attending to the needs of your senior loved one can be challenging for everyone – the elder, the caregiver, and you. In preparation for this big step, there are some things that you can do to ease the transition for your senior, your family, and yourself.
Talk it Out
The first step in preparation for a change in living status is a tactful but honest conversation. You need to address the elder one’s need for help. This isn’t a one-way communication and should involve identification of the elder’s needs – both your ideas and theirs. Your reasons for believing that help is needed should be clearly stated but you should also be willing to listen to his beliefs about his continuing abilities and concerns about loss of control.
This conversation may need to involve other family but stick to close relatives who have been involved in his daily life or family members who have vested interest in his well-being.
The cost of eldercare can be considerable. In order to find out what can be provided, a financial accounting must occur. This includes examination of health insurance, cash accounts, investment holdings and day-to-day expenses. He may resist but you must have a qualified evaluation. You may be able to do this within the family but you may require outside assistance.
Once you know where the finances stand, you can better assess the services that can be provided. Adjustments in finances may need to occur to maximize your “care” dollar and this may require professional advice.
Make a Plan
You have established a list of needs, wants and concerns, and figured out what resources are available. Next is crafting the plan. It may be a multi-step process with an initial period of part-time caregiver assistance when later you may need full-time care. Considerations of family availability should be included, particularly if full-time home care is intended. Some relatives may be willing to spend weekends or certain days in the caregiver position or may be willing to take on some tasks such as shopping or housekeeping.
For each step, you will need to identify resources available, sources of personal care, medical needs, and contingency plans.
Integrate the Caregiver
Once you have decided that you and your senior loved one are ready to take the step of obtaining assistance. Deciding on a particular caregiver or group will be important. You should work to establish clear communication processes from all three parties – you, the senior, and the caregiver. Each member in the relationship should have a clear understanding of responsibilities and needs and a respectful relationship should be established and maintained.
Adjust your Plan
Once the caregiver enters the picture, changes may need to be made. Issues may occur due to medical changes, simple personality, work style matters, or financial matters. Your plan is not set in stone but may need flexibility and adjustment. With each modification, however, the same clear, thoughtful communication is essential.
The process of making a decision to obtain caregiver help can be stressful but a careful, comprehensive plan will help alleviate and prevent any future issues.
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