The Elder Care Leap of Faith


leapoffaithWhen it was time to help my parents with their elder care needs, I didn't hesitate, I jumped in.  After my mother's death, a friend asked my husband and me if we would pay bills for her if she became ill.

Being single with no children, our friend had a network of long term friends who supported each other.  At age 80, her network was fast disappearing due to disability and age

Being an elder care consultant, I was much more worried about who would look after our friend if she became ill.  Who would be her advocate as she aged?  The sobering question for me after caring for my mother was, did I have the courage and stamina to take another elder care leap of faith to care for our friend?

When caring for parents, you may have done what I did, jump into help without thinking things through.  I encourage my clients to carefully think through the impact that caring for someone will have on their life, career and relationships.  When considering helping our friend, I tried to balance my regard for her against the challenges she faced in the future.  My heart said "yes of course, we'll help you" and my brain said "whoa, are you ready to jump into caregiving again?"

Here are some questions to consider before you commit to caregiving for a family member or a friend.

  • How will I build a team to help my friend?  What resources can I draw on to help me take care of this person?  Are there other friends or family members who will help?  What resources does this person have to pay for help?
  • Can I commit to being a leader in this person's life?  Can I handle the tough decisions that come along with a caring for an elder? How will I balance her independence and her safety?  How will I cope with the inevitable stress of caregiving?
  • Will the person I'm helping really let other people help?  Will she create an estate plan and prepare a healthcare power of attorney and a power of attorney for finance so that others can help her?  Do we trust each other enough to share and be responsible for intimate personal and financial details?

In the end, answering all the questions may not lead you to a clear decision.  Becoming someone's caregiver whether she is your family member or a dear friend is a leap of faith and love.

Are you caring for a friend, please share your experiences with us.

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--Janice Wallace