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Planning A Future Together

By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 3)

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 mouths, unsaid. 
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 family member.
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 entertaining.


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