Family crises don’t make appointments…they just happen whether you are ready or not. In fact, our clock is ticking:
• Every 67 seconds another person in America is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and that is just one of the nearly 100 types of dementia;
• Every three minutes an individual 65 years of age or older is taken to an emergency room; 14% of the subsequent admissions are for broken hips.
The list goes on.
You wish mom or dad could have the life they want…to stay in the home you grew up in … to stay independent. In fact, they may have made you promise that you would see to it. But dreams and promises can’t always come true. Are you ready? The clock is ticking. Do you dread the phone call that may come in the middle of the night- or during the work day? The call that tells you something out of the blue has happened to someone you love?
I got that call- I was working full time with school age children at home when I got the call that my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Right then and there I had to deal with my mother’s medical needs, her health crisis, her finances while caring for my family and running my business. One of our employees got the call that his mom had to be out of her independent living facility within 30 days…she was no longer “independent.”
How many of you have had a similar experience- or are hoping you never get the call? Well, hope is not a strategy for your inevitable family crisis – you need a plan. A plan starts with having the necessary documents for your older loved ones, and the basics are: a POLST, a Living Will, a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and a Power of Attorney for Finance. Some of our clients also have found that mom or dad wanted to lay out their plan for a funeral, but that may be getting a bit ahead of things.
You also need to know their physicians – that’s right, it’s plural; there likely will be more than one. You also want to know their preferences…which hospital in the event they need to go to one, a document to inform any medical interventions. And, of course, where their health insurance card is, their will, and who their lawyer is. You may get some resistance, so just remember that resistance is just fear putting up a wall. Empathize with their fear.
Imagine now your next step. Imagine what it would be like to have the peace of mind that a plan can give. The possibility of sleeping at night. The possibility of having more time with your family. The possibility of being able to do your job. The possibility of feeling more in control of all the chaos. Check out what I had to say about planning for the crisis that doesn’t make an appointment on ABC News. Watch it below (after a brief commercial).
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.