By Joy Loverde
In the world of eldercare, the process of caring for aging parents and loved ones requires that we learn an entirely new set of sometimes confusing rules and roles. On any given day we’ll grapple with questions like who makes the decisions and who pays for what? We’ll also ride the emotional rollercoaster of our life, simultaneously feeling sad, angry, guilty, loving and helpless, and then wonder if we’re “losing it.”
My personal approach to family caregiving is based on the principles of planning, and is the secret to my effectiveness in my role as family caregiver. It’s no wonder my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner (2009, Random House) is a best seller in its category. To be proactive rather than reactive has always been my eldercare mantra – and it’s the only way to go.
And that leads me to the subject of this blog (Parts I and II) – looking ahead and figuring out how to balance work/life responsibilities and handling the all-consuming responsibilities of eldercare. At any given time, we can fully expect to help our parents with errands, housekeeping, transportation, bill paying, medical attention, and much, much more – and why so many people keep their head in the sand and wait for a crisis to hit them head on is a mystery to me. Eldercare is not a matter of if, but when.
The American family has undergone big changes - nobody's home anymore. We spend most of our time at work, at school, at play. Because of this modern-day reality, we’re better off figuring out early on who else will be helping us. Limitations of personal and professional relationships, time, distance, finances, stamina, and skill dictate how much help we can realistically offer.
Plus, dealing with aging parents from long distance is almost the same as dealing with strangers -- there can be so much you do not know.
Next time I’ll offer specific tasks you can do to proactively avert a work/life crisis.