What to Discuss with your Aging Parents Before Becoming Their Caregiver

Transitioning as the caregiver for your parent can be an overwhelming thought. Watching your parent in poor health or seeing them age is hard. It is not easy to do but talking to your parents while they are healthy and younger about their health care decisions will help you honor their wishes when the time comes. End-of-life discussions are harder to have in a time of crisis than before any issues have arisen.

Health Care

Have your parents gather all important medical documents and make sure they keep records up to date. Important documents include:

  • Medical & Life Insurance Policies
  • Medicare or Medicaid Cards
  • Medications taken, dosages and costs
  • List of Medical Providers
  • Pharmacy Information

Financial & Legal

Having financial and legal documents in place will make it easier for you to navigate you parent’s care and follow their wishes.

  • Create and maintain an up to date will
  • Have a Power of Attorney in place for whoever is responsible for sustaining the basic necessities of daily living and making decisions about care.
  • For healthcare decisions have a Health Care Power of Attorney setup
  • Put in place Health Care Advance Directives regarding their wishes of use for resuscitation or life support. Also provide a copy to their primary care physician.
  • Fill out HIPPAA Privacy Release Forms with all of their doctors so that you have full access to their medical records

End-of-Life Care

Another important piece to talk about is extended care. Health care needs might be more than what you are able to provide. Consider all of the options: in home care, nursing homes, palliative care and decide what options would work best for you both. By discussing and agreeing to arrangements ahead of time your feelings of guilt should be less. Have a conversation about all of your parents’ end-of-life care wishes so when the time comes a plan is easier to put in play.

These conversations can be extremely difficult to have but when you shift roles to their caregiver it is important to have and will help make any decisions/care easier. Be sure that documents are updated frequently or as things change.