Today I’m thrilled to offer a guest post from Erin Kershaw, a Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families make decisions about elderly life transitions. This is advice we all need to hear.
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Are you concerned about your aging parents and uncertain how to help them? Maybe you are unaware of what resources are available, what legal documents should be in place, or what living options are the best to consider? As a Professional Geriatric Care Manager, I assist families struggling to find answers and plan for the future.
If you would like to help your aging parents, here is a checklist to get you started:
- Legal – In addition to having an updated will, did you know it’s important your parents have both a Durable Medical and a Financial Power of Attorney (POA)? These documents authorize you or another designated person to make decisions on your parents’ behalf if they become incapable of making sound decisions. Closely related to the POAs is a Living Will. This allows your parents to communicate their wishes regarding which treatments they would or would not want should they become incapacitated.
- Medical – It’s a good idea for you to have a list of your parents’ current doctors, medical conditions, and a list of all their medications. Be sure vitamins and herbal supplements are included as well, since these can interact with prescription medications. Review with your parents why they are taking each medication, and at what time(s) each day. Be sure your parents share an updated medications list with their doctors at every appointment. It’s even wise for them to bring the actual medicines in the original containers to these appointments. A gallon-sized Ziploc bag works well for this. If your parents use plastic pill boxes, available at drug stores, to sort their medications according to time of day they are to be taken, the original containers should be kept together in the bag anyway.
- Housing – Ask your parents what their long-term living arrangement plans are. Some are open to moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) or Assisted Living (AL) community. Others are adamant about remaining in their homes. Regardless of the plan, it’s important to recognize some level of assistance will be needed down the road. This conversation will help you if a parent’s ability to safely live independently becomes a concern.
- Transportation – As we age, our ability to drive is impacted by cataracts, arthritis and other medical conditions. Driving at night may become difficult, but that doesn’t mean your parents need to be home bound. Community-based driving services, private-duty companions, and help from friends, family & religious communities may be good options to support independence while assuring safety.
- Vital Information – Encourage your parents to keep a list of all investment, banking, and credit card account numbers, as well as details of mortgages/deeds/titles, medical and life insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage licenses and social security numbers. Ask your parents where this information is kept, and keep a copy if they are agreeable.
It’s best to have these conversations before there is a crisis. Your parents will be more willing to share their thoughts when they understand your goal is to understand and respect their wishes.
If you need some professional assistance to help guide you through the maze of elder care, you can visit www.caremanager.org to find a Geriatric Care Manager near you.
Geriatric Care Manager,
Brandywine Elder Care Management Services, LLC