Prepare for the unexpected…

I wish I had a jovial example of a transformative event, but my example is a sad one, but one that has enlighted me and my family.  The sudden death of my mother, at age 74, brought my immediate family into turmoil.  My father, a traditional man, did not cook nor clean, nor shop, so he was fraught with the task of providing for himself.  His health was frail, so it was incumbant upon my sisters and me to find appropriate care.

All this leads to learning about the labyrinth of elder care services: assisted living facilities, home care, nursing care, government entitlements etc.  It is a maze of paperwork.  While it was quite a saga for over five years, my sisters and I gained insight on how to deal with this.  (We are fortunate to all live within 40 minutes of each other).  Having siblings will share in the tasks equally is always benefical.

Step 1:  Have a meeting with the parent about the next steps. Do they want to live alone?  Can they live alone?  Can they still drive?  What ailments do they have.  Start the hunt for alternative housing or in-house aids.

Step 2:   Divide the tasks:

  1. Financial – gain access to accounts; be a co-signatory for various accounts
  2. Health care – learn about the doctors who specialize in the care of the elderly
  3. Legal Documents – get the legal documents in order (Living Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, etc.
  4. Housing – assess whether to sell the house.  Find alternative housing if need be.

Step 3:  Hire a geriatric care manager: (optional)  (I wish we did this.  These are experts in elder care issues.

Before I write a thesis on this, suffice it to say, the event was transformative, but the outcome was a learning experience.  We sadly lost our Dad after five years in an Assisted Living facility, but by-and-large, he was well cared for and happy to see us.

Bottom line:  Prepare.  Transformative events are usually unexpected.

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