“I wish I had met you a few months ago.” I hear some variation of this phrase weekly from people I meet through both networking and personal events. The comment comes from people who have experienced family caregiver in some form and had no idea what resources were available to assist them or the person they were caring for.
At some point in our lives we have either been, will be or know someone who is the caregiver of an elderly relative. Depending on our life expectancy, we will also become the elderly person in need of resources. What happens when caregivers have to make decisions with no per-conceived notion about available resources or are making decisions in reaction to a crisis?
All decisions made from the point of the “incident”, the fall, hospitalization…you fill in the blank, are done in reaction to the situation. These very important, potentially life altering decisions are based primarily on an emotional response to the event or the direction given by a medical professional. Regrettably, reactionary decisions may not be the best option for care and may contradict the person wishes.
Now I realize that in our busy world, if something isn’t happening immediately, we don’t really have the need to know about resources available for the “what if’s” in life. Unfortunately neglected “what if” planning can become crucial reactionary decision making when a crisis strikes.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. There are preparations that can be made TODAY for the “what if’s” in life.
Ask yourself and those you love these pro-active “what if” questions and begin preparing for potential crisis:
- What if I cannot make decisions for myself?
- Who would I want to make those decisions?
- What decisions would I want them to make regarding nutrition, resuscitation, end of life comfort/care?
- What if I needed long term nursing care?
- Would I want that in home or in a facility?
- What would be my personal guidelines to determine where the care was given?
- What if I need short term rehabilitation?
- Where would I want to go for that care?
- What if I could no longer manage my finances?
- Who would I trust to manage them for me?
- What do I need to have in place to make sure that if one of my “what if’s” happened my family would know what I wanted done?
- What if (Fill in the Blank)
I know that asking these questions can be awkward, however; if and when the crisis strikes, you’ll be glad you did.