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Caregiving for a Parent or Elderly Person

By Patricia St. Clair

(Page 3 of 4)

Every family is different, as are the needs for every caregiver. However, money seems to be one of the more basic concerns for all parties involved. Regardless of whether Mom is to be placed in a Nursing Home or move in with offspring hundreds of miles away, money often becomes the deciding factor upon which life-altering decisions are made. Insurance companies need to be contacted to find out what coverages policies provide. Financial information is crucial in assisting adult offspring in making decisions regarding the parent's healthcare.

A second controversial issue between elders and their offspring is independence, or the lack thereof. Mom has driven to the grocery, drug store and all points in between all of her adult life, only to be told now that she no longer possesses the ability or good judgment to drive. In the best of circumstances this is stressful, but to those whose parents have truly lost the ability to make wise decisions behind the wheel of a car, it can be devastating. Now the subject of transportation becomes a major issue. Who is to take off work to transport Mom (or Dad) to the doctor? Chances are, Mom or Dad will disagree with their limitations, thus setting the stage for further confrontations. Battles never "solve" confrontations; they merely deepen the resentment already felt among all parties involved.

The loss of driving ability, the relocation of a parent, and the need for questions involving financial matters all are underlying courses of the biggest fear an elder has. This is the fear of losing independence. Although offspring caregivers must deal with numerous situations as they arise, the elder fears losing their "rights" more than the sum of all the other parts. There's a juggling of guilt vs. need for the elder. It is a battle that is never quite won. We as caregivers need to be fully aware of that battle raging inside the elder while we cope with the daily tasks of caregiving. Any adult child with the potential of caregiving should make it a priority to watch for signs in aging family members for the onset of illness or failure. Awareness can provide a caregiver with the advantage he/she needs to plan, take necessary steps, consult with health care professionals and be prepared for what may lay ahead. Refusing to face the inevitable cripples the caregiver, and ultimately the elder, as the caregiver has chosen to remain ignorant of choices that can and should be made.


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