Many of you may be experiencing a new call to caregiving, due to a significant change in health status of an aging parent or another loved one. If this is your first time having to make major healthcare decisions on behalf of someone else, how do you figure out what you need to know? How do you know what questions to ask when faced with the new reality of caring for someone who is ill with a chronic or even terminal illness, possibly having to arrange for long term care or even end of life care?
There are so many issues to take into consideration. Your internal dialogue may go from “Do I need to step in now?” to “Who can I call?” A zillion different thoughts such as who is going to pay for all this, who else should be contacted, where is the checkbook and what insurance is in place may be racing around your head.
The most productive way to begin is by stepping back, taking a deep breath and beginning the process of organizing the priorities of the situation. Here are a few first steps to consider when trying to gain a handle on what seems to be an overwhelming circumstance:
Assess the immediate situation. What is required for right now? To properly make this assessment you need to have certain pieces of information:
– Health Care Provider’s opinion on current condition, prognosis, treatments
– Is the person in a safe place or do you need to consider making a change?
– Where is the money?
– Do you need to contact an attorney, accountant or any other financial advisors?
Do you have a clear picture of what the affected person wants for this stage of life? Have any actions been taken, any documents prepared that spell out what if any planning has already been done?
Reach out. There is an amazing array of resources available to you for support, advice, services, etc. This seems to be the most difficult one to manage. You need to find the right people who can help you. Just as there seems to have been an explosion of the number of families in need, there has also been a growth in the industries that cater to providing support and services to these families and care providers. Ask friends, other family members and colleagues if they have accessed any of these resources and if they can recommend good people with whom they have worked.
Once you get started, you will find that most problems are not new, but have been addressed by someone at some point. The more you connect with different people and organizations whose mission is to facilitate your process, the better you will feel, and the more positive impact you will have on your loved one in need.