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Planning A Future Together
By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer
With every passing month, our loved ones
have ups and downs in their health profile. During
the down times, we think about how the future can be
managed when those we care for cannot provide any input.
The questions and concerns stick to the roof of our
Approaching the subject may have been tried time and
again, with your parent or spouse changing the subject
or outright refusing to discuss it. We may be in
the next millennium, but the concepts of “breadwinner”
or “head of the house” continue in our society.
The need for one partner to retain the role while being
ill creates enough of a power struggle within the
individual, let alone the partnership of caregiver to
The best way to begin the subject is by doing your own
research. There are a number of resources online
that will help you compile enough information to have
answers and options. The Alzheimer’s Association
has a 24/7 helpline to assist caregivers with any
questions they may have, ranging from service referrals
to finding the appropriate legal professional.
However, your family member may not be experiencing
dementia or a related condition, and a 1 a.m. phone call
to any crisis line is not the way to start planning.
The goal of planning ahead is allowing you and your
loved one to share and live your lives fully, without
the fears that come with thinking about the future.
Real or imagined, these “what ifs” create anxiety.
Stress clouds problem solving ability, and partial or
total caregiving generates enough stress.
You may want to seek a referral to a legal professional
to make an appointment on your own, to be guided to the
possible avenues that must be addressed in this
planning. You can feel free to ask questions in
any manner, without your loved one being affected.
Be blunt, express your fears, and have complete
information with you. This allows you to focus on
the complete picture.
Once you’ve compiled information, sketch out a plan for
yourself. The best way to begin a conversation
about planning for the future is by showing your family
member that you have concerns for your own possible
needs. You won’t have the same prognosis, but the
willingness to acknowledge that planning is for
everyone, regardless of health, is a door opener.
It’s hard to do the homework alone.
You may find help through friends or family members who
can be trusted to keep the research project quiet, until
you can bring up the subject. When parents are
involved, one spouse may be able to develop a plan for
their partner to discuss with Mom and Dad. An
interested, compassionate mate usually has the ability
to provide suggestions you may not feel comfortable