Out of nowhere comes an emergency phone call: Come quick. Mom fell. Now you are the one who is thrown off balance. Unquestionably the emotional climate surrounding an eldercare emergency is highly charged. Right? You are the suddenly appointed family caregiver.
Your game plan in an eldercare emergency is to reduce confusion and runaway emotions. Make a copy of this blog and tuck it away in a safe place. When the need arises, you have everything you need to get through this experience in one piece. Importantly, don’t let anyone rush you: Resist the temptation to make quick decisions. You are in more control of the situation than you think.
Step One: Get organized
Create a file. You’ll want one place to store important papers and notations. You are not going to remember anything anybody says. Grab a legal pad and pen and keep it with you always. Write everything down. Who is doing what? Date your notes. Write down names, titles, emails, and cell phone numbers from everyone you talk with. You can organize and digitize your documents and notes later. The idea is to record what people tell you so you can make informed decisions going forward.
Step Two: Accumulate resources
Surround yourself with experts of all kinds – medical staff; care managers; patient advocates; financial advisors; legal professionals; and housing and care professionals. Ask the experts who else you need to be talking with during this emergency.
Step Three: Gain understanding of the big picture
The eldercare emergency will surface a variety of needs – for you and your parent. Keep your eye on the big picture. The idea is to become familiar with what you will likely encounter on your caregiver journey. The Table of Contents in my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner offers a list of every eldercare need you will be dealing with including: Creating A Care Team; Averting Caregiver Burnout; Communication Tips; Money Matters; Legal Matters; Insurance; Housing; Safety; Transportation; Managing Medical Care; Quality of Life; Dying and Death; and The Documents Locater ™.
Step Four: Ask specific questions
The good news is you are surrounded by people who have encountered eldercare crises throughout their career. Make extensive use of their expertise. Keep asking questions such as:
- What is the problem that I am dealing with here?
- What are my short-term options?
- What should I be thinking about long-term?
- What are the costs involved?
- Who else can help me?
Step Five: Gather an informal network of support
Who will help you? Create a list of people who can do tasks for you. Ask siblings, children, spouse/partner, friends, and neighbors to pitch in. Make a to-do list. There are plenty of ways for others to be helpful such as running errands, housekeeping, and shopping. When people ask how they can help, let them choose from your list. If they don’t ask, pick up the telephone and solicit their assistance. Be assertive.
The next step is to make informed decisions. Click here to make use of the Decision-Making Worksheet.