By Kristine Dwyer, LSW, Staff Writer
Arrange for a family meeting either by conference calls or in
person to discuss the care needs of parents, home care or
housing options and how each family member can assist with
the identified needs. A caregiver consultant or social
worker may be used as a group mediator. It is strongly
suggested that this meeting occur prior to a health crisis,
especially with large families, to promote communication,
maximize care-planning options and minimize stress.
Include parents in the planning and decision-making process as much
as possible. Encourage parents to begin their own life
planning as a “gift” to the family before they are no longer able to make
personal or legal decisions.
Seek support from community resources such as caregiver
consultants, geriatric social workers, senior outreach
programs, respite care programs, medical professionals or
Area Agencies on Aging. Start with the Yellow Pages, do an
Internet search or contact the local social service office.
Inquire about a trial or short-term stay at an assisted living
facility if your parent refuses to consider a permanent
residency. Some people hesitate to move because they think
they will lose their independence, when they often find the
opposite to be true.
Discuss legal affairs and pre-plan if possible. This includes
choosing an executor of the estate, completing wills and
power of attorney, and preparing a health care directive,
making property decisions (homestead, land, auto, etc.),
financial planning (who will be named on parent’s accounts)
and even funeral pre-planning.
Caregiving does not have to be done alone and asking for help is
encouraged. Keep your own mental and physical
health needs a priority. Understand that
caregiving decisions are never easy and that
your initial intentions and plans to provide
care may need to change. Finally, give yourself
credit for seeking options and attempting to
provide the very best care and support for your