Step 4: Ten Things You Can Do Right Now

1.  Knowledge is power. Learn about the aging systems that you will be relying on to help support your aging parents, including

  • Medicare
  • HMOs
  • MediCal
  • Long term care insurance
  • Local government aging services
  • Department of Public Social Services-In Home Supportive Services (California)
  • Veterans' benefits and services
  • Private home care assistance
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Board and care facilities
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Hospice care
  • Respite care

 

2. Understand the job of caregiving.

  • It is a job, and a hard one. Don't ever discount its value. It is also a job that needs to be shared by more than one person.
  • Only use caregiving agencies that conduct full background checks, including fingerprinting, that are fully insured, that carry workers' compensation insurance, and use employees rather than independent contractors.

3.  Know how your parents want to live as they grow older.

4. Get a working knowledge of your parents' financial and legal affairs.

  • Offer to help them make sure all of their affairs are in order.

 

5. Obtain a working knowledge of your parents' health issues.

  • Understand their medical conditions and know what medications they are taking.
  • Maintain copies of their powers of attorney for health care.
  • Get educated about depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, and cardiac diseases so that you know what symptoms to look out for as they grow older.

 

6. Encourage good nutrition.

  • Know what type of diet your parents should be following and encourage them to stay on track.
  • Really push exercise and activities —if you don’t use it, you lose it!
  • Look for any sudden weight loss or gain and know how to address it.

 

7. Become their advocate.

  • Understand that you need to be your parents' advocate, to ensure sure that they get what they want and need.
  • If necessary, bring in an outside party to help your family.

 

8. Use a professional when necessary; you can't know everything.

  • Find a team of professionals to work together to make sure that all of your parents' needs are met.
  • Never use just one provider to handle everything— such as legal affairs, investments, financial planning, and health care issues.
  • Always use a check and balance system to protect your parents and their estate.

 

9. Encourage socialization.

  • Understand the importance of not being isolated from the outside world and how isolation may adversely affect your parents’ mental outlook.
  • Find ways to keep your parents involved with other people through regular phone calls, or through use of a care manager who can help them with medical appointments. Internet communication is great for the tech-inclined.

 

10. Maintain good family relationships.

  • Keep your relationship with your parents as close as possible; have others act as caregivers. Once you become a full-time caregiver, your relationship will change. Understand that your stress levels will rise tremendously.
  • Try to get support from your siblings in providing care or pitching in some money to pay for care.
  • Don’t let your sense of duty tarnish your loving relationship with your parents.

 

Download this list as a PDF:  The 10 Most Important Things You Can Do to Take Good Care of Your Loved Ones

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