One of the hardest situations to overcome is getting care for a loved one who doesn’t think that they need it. As many people age, their bodies and minds start to fail them, or they have a sudden injury or accident that they cannot completely recover from. This often leads to the inevitable: deciding it’s time to provide physical care to an aging or sick loved one. Often times, this is met with resistance, as people feel as though their independence is being stripped away, or that other people won’t listen to their wishes any more. We asked caregivers and professionals in the senior care field for their advice for people who find themselves in this situation.
1. Discuss it openly and do it now. Do not wait to talk about finances or medical wishes until something tragic happens. Often it is too late once an accident or medical condition has occurred, and the family will have no clue what to do or how to pay for it. As hard as it may be, ask parents or aging adults that you will be in charge of what their wants and needs would be should an unfortunate situation occur. This is key for both parties and we see why in our next point.
2. Fill out an Advanced Health Care Directive. What is that? An AHCD is a legal document that states what your wishes are for your health AND/OR who should be in charge of your health decisions should you be in a state where you are unable to decide for yourself. This is crucial for all families to do before something tragic happens and here is why. Say for example, your generally healthy 85-year-old mother has a stroke and is in the hospital unable to communicate with anyone. Without an AHCD, the medical staff will make any and all decisions regarding her health without any word from you, the child, or even her spouse. They have no legal obligation to inform you of anything they are doing, and they certainly do not need your permission to act or not act in a certain way medically. With an AHCD, however, your mom will have communicated her wishes on a legal document, and she will have appointed a person she trusts to make medical decisions for her. Make sure to have copies on hand as every doctor/specialty will need one on file. (California’s AHCD can be found here.)
3. Remember to have compassion. Failing health is not easy for anyone, and it is especially hard if you are in a hospital, short-term rehabilitation facility, or unable to be in the comfort of your own home. Try to help your aging loved one see that while preemptive measures may be uncomfortable in the moment, it is nothing compared to the hardship of being unprepared should a tragedy strike. Put yourself in their shoes and it will help you communicate in a kind but honest way.
If you are unsure if your situation requires a caregiver, find out more here. If it becomes apparent that a loved one needs in home care, here is how to pick the best caregiver for your situation.
These statements have not been evaluated by a medical professional. They are in no way intended to take the place of a doctor’s advice.