To sidestep an unpleasant situation and to ensure that you handle caregiving as successfully as possible, you should go in for a little thought, education and preplanning. To start with, hold a family session when your parents are well. Talk about the future, and what they would like you to do for them in case they fall stick. Involve your brothers and sisters in the discussion and hold it in a positive atmosphere. Although talking about old age and impending debility can be uncomfortable, and disconcerting, this could be the most positive approach in the long run. Consider covering the following areas:
- Division of labour: Decide who will do what - in an unambiguous manner - when your parents need help. If one relative lives close by and decides to be the primary caregiver, it's crucial that the other siblings play a supportive role. One should also find answers to the following important queries: Who will give the primary caregiver a break when he or she needs it? Who will help financially? Who will lend a sympathetic ear when the primary caregiver feels overwhelmed?
- Money: To plan for the years ahead, you should know your parents' financial resources. Such information helps you avoid the pitfalls of arranging for your parents to live beyond or below their means. If you're the main caregiver, decide well ahead of time if you want financial compensation for your efforts. This attitude might seem very commercial , but may actually help in the long run!
- Insurance: Make sure your parents have taken adequate medical insurance to cover their medical expenses.
- Living will: This document puts into writing what medical measures your family member does and doesn't want to be taken in the event of a terminal illness or condition.
- Power of attorney: This legal document allows a designated person to make specified legal and financial decisions if your parent or elderly relative becomes unable to manage his or her affairs.