This week I’ve had so many heartbreaking conversations with friends and clients so I feel compelled to talk about what to do when your parents age.
It’s not just your parents who need help, you need to know where to go to find the assistance you need and how to cope with the impact this has on your emotions, time and other family members.
In my case, my father suffered from a stroke almost 20 years ago and Mum started showing signs of Dementia around 5 years ago.
The emotional rollercoaster that ensued was difficult, to say the least and so through my experiences I want to share some tips on how to make the journey a lot easier.
It’s really interesting to see that sibling conflict is so prevalent in these situations. The reason that I’m talking about this first, is because if you can all be on the same page from the outset, life will be a lot easier.
As your parents age problems that may have been simmering for years seem to find their way to the surface. Usually one sibling seems to take on the bulk of the responsibility due to more availability or other reasons. This is ok, but what tends to happen is other siblings barely help, then tend to criticise everything.
For the one doing everything, this is crippling, cruel and will effect your physical and mental health.
My suggestions are to have a sit down with family members. Discuss what needs to be done. If you are the one who normally does everything STOP! Everyone has to share the load.
When you take your parents to appointments let the others call you if they want information. It’s not your responsibility to do everything. If they become aggressive hang up and walk away. You wont change them, you’ll exhaust yourself and explode when things get too much.
Most states have an Aged Care Service. Make contact with them and have your parents assessed. In NSW it’s called the ACAT assessment. Short for Aged Care Assessment Team. They will check to see if they are able to live independently, what level of assistance they need in their home or if they need an aged care facility.
Even if your parents are ok, ask for at least one service e.g a cleaner 3 hours per week. This is so they are recorded in the system and so when you really need help, the paperwork has been done. This will avoid so much pressure, because if your parents suddenly need more help, the hard part is done. Contact your government department for the Aged Pension and complete necessary paperwork.
Avail yourself of everything available to you especially groups, information and counseling. I can’t begin to tell you what a lifeline they have been.
It’s a good idea to set up a Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney. I wont go into a lot of detail, you will need to see a Solicitor but I will say one thing. Avoid the mistake I made, in being Sole Power of Attorney.
Even if at the time everyone appears to be on board, circumstances change and you could find yourself being scrutinized for no reason at all other than sibling rivalry. Have at least 2 of you sign and that way no one can be accused of anything.
Take your parents together to arrange a will so everyone is on the same page.
One thing I always recommend is to organise and pay for the funeral up front.
We had to name a funeral director when Dad was placed in a home so we thought we’d make some enquiries. The benefit of paying for it all upfront is that you’re not subjected to any price rises and when the day comes, there is hardly anything to decide.
Makes the whole process so simple so you can focus on what matters. Grieving and saying goodbye.
I want to leave you with one last point. You have nothing to be guilty about.
As much as you love your parents and are grateful for everything they’ve done, they cannot be your sole focus. You have your own family, partners, children, grandchildren. Be kind to yourself, do as much as you can and reach out for help when you can’t be there.
I hope I’ve been able to help, feel free to subscribe or comment on this blog.or drop me an email.
Until Next Time
Look Feel Live Your Best and Decide Today To Live For Tomorrow