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Caregiving For A Parent.. /
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Caregiving for a Parent or Elderly
Rather than involve the court system or
attorneys as elders begin to fail, adults need to reach
out to siblings, relatives, church friends and volunteer
services. Many siblings today live hundreds of miles
apart, and in many cases also lived far distances from
their parents. Family members, all of them, need to
become proactive in the management of their parents'
healthcare. The familiarization with prescribed medicine
is the first important step, and if the elder refuses to
discuss their medical problems, offspring should
establish a relationship with their parents' physician.
The medical community often welcomes this show of
caring; however, others dissuade the intrusion. Family
members should never withdraw when the first door slams
in their face, but should persist until finding a method
to establish some sort of common ground with their
parents' healthcare provider.
The alert, knowledgeable offspring will
also be more prepared to deal with deeper issues as the
patient's condition worsens. Nursing homes and home
healthcare, in combination with finances can become a
full-time concern. Parents are often reluctant to
discuss both their medical condition and financial
situation with adult children, but when health
deteriorates to the degree that outside help is
necessary, it is vital for the primary caregiver to be
aware of both.
Most importantly, children should be
aware of their parents' insurance and exactly what it
covers. Financial awareness is crucial here, for few
elders are totally covered by any insurance plan. When
nursing homes appear to be the only alternative to
independent living, children often begin to question the
feasibility of having a parent move in with them.
Ironically, government aide is available to eldercare
housing facilities but not to adults who care give to
parents within their homes. The financial burden to
children is often the deciding factor in the decision
made regarding the elder's future home. Again, the more
knowledgeable the offspring is regarding insurance and
costs of facilities (including transportation, medicine
and meals) vs. cost of moving a parent into the child's
home, the easier a reasonable decision can be made.
On a personal note, my mother passed
away in April 1999, after a yearlong illness. Before she
lost the capacity to communicate, she struggled to
clarify all legal matters to me, her only child. Utmost
on her mind were specifications regarding stocks, bonds
and bank accounts. This one act on her part enabled me
to be proactive not just in her medical needs but her
overall financial needs as well.