Beverly Bernstein Joie, Certified Care Manager

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

New Year's Resolution

After the holidays I confronted my resistance to that dreaded activity – I got on the scale.  It wasn’t pretty!  But, there comes a time when it is necessary to stare boldly at the reality at hand.  It is one thing to assume something, and it is another thing to face it.

New Year’s Resolutions are something that many of us make.  It may be the diet thing or a commitment to make this year a fresh start and to explore those things which are difficult to face.  It is a new beginning.  And, as caregivers, we can use this time as an opportunity to really address our parents’ issues.  After all, seeing what is before us can give us the control to avoid mistakes and to point us towards what needs to happen.

11 New Year’s Caregiver Resolutions for 2011

  1. Review your parents’ power of attorney, living will, and advanced directives.  If there are none in place, discuss this need with your parent
  2. Hire an elder law attorney to review legal matters and assure all documents are up to date
  3. Do a safety inspection of your parent’s home observing area rugs, lighting, steps, grab bars in the bathroom, and other obvious fall risks
  4. Make sure that you understand your parents’ physical and mental status through both observations and visits or conversations with their primary physician
  5. Discuss their perspective of their status with them and gain an understanding of their view of the future
  6. Review their financial situation with them and/or their financial planner
  7. Hold family meetings to discuss their current status, their short and long-term wishes.  Support family members to volunteer to do what they can for parents and to consider themselves a “team” to address parental needs.  Each person can elect to do different things that support the common goal.
  8. Put your care team in place – by learning about appropriate physician specialists, resources, and geriatric care management
  9. If a move is being considered, familiarize yourself with the retirement communities in your area
  10. Name the “elephant” in the room – let’s talk about a “what if” scenario.   Begin with something like:  “Did you hear about Aunt Katherine?  She had a stroke and the family needs to make some decisions.  What do YOU think they should do?”  It’s always easier to discuss when its happening to someone else.
  11. Make a plan to care for yourself!  This should be your #1 resolution.  As caregiving demands increase, the burden goes unnoticed.  But, your body knows the truth.  The greatest love of all is learning to love and care for yourself!!