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Are You Ready To Be A Caregiver?

If you’re a caregiver you know just how stressful it can be, especially in the beginning when you feel so overwhelmed. That’s exactly how my sisters and I felt when we were caregivers for my father. Had we been more prepared, many of the difficulties and crises that we experienced could have been anticipated and resolved much more quickly, and life would have been a lot easier for all of us.

Granted, knowing when to get involved in your parent's life is a murky proposition, for the need to be their caregiver rarely happens over night.  The clues are there, but we fail to appreciate their significance.  For example, they may begin to show poor judgement in handling their finances, tell insensitive jokes in public and, more commonly, begin to drive erratically.  The feedback that we receive from our clients is that in hindsight they saw the warning signs, but they never thought to connect the dots because the events appeared so sporadic and unrelated to each other.  

Being prepared is like having a hurricane plan. Tedious but vital. It makes the unanticipated and unexpected events more manageable and less stressful. And though everyone’s experience is unique, there are some issues that just about all caregivers are guaranteed to face.

Among the essentials:

  • Financial issues (is there enough money, who will manage it on a daily basis, and are they protected from fraud?)
  • Driving and transportation (are Mom or Dad safe behind the wheel and if not, how will they get around, and how are you going to have the necessary driving conversations with them?)
  • Medical (are their physicians authorized to speak with you about their care?)
  • Legal (do you have a Durable Power of Attorney in case they are unable to make decisions?)

These are the tip of the iceberg, but one thing is certain - being prepared means dealing with issues before there’s a medical or other crisis. Trust me: It makes the rest of the caregiving journey much less traumatic.

Seniority Matters is here to help and we’re going to cover these issues and much more in upcoming Nancy & Company blogs. We'll provide you with helpful tips - everything from how to have the “financial conversation” to how to work with your siblings.