Circumstances can spin on a dime leaving you the primary caregiver of a parent and putting you in the position of the ultimate role reversal. While your parent is still relatively healthy, you need to discuss things like power of attorney (medical and financial), resuscitation, a living will, bank accounts, and life insurance, as both pertain to a beneficiary. You’ll feel uncomfortable discussing these subjects which center on your parents’ impending
death, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did because you’ll have the vital information you are going to need.
If your parent has a bank account, you and your siblings need to know who mom or dad expects to continue to pay their bills and write the checks for household purchases. That person should be added on as a signer to the bank account for legal purposes. A beneficiary should also be added to the bank account so that the funds are not held up upon the elder’s death. Those funds will be needed to keep up property after death or pay the funeral expenses not covered by insurance. If the money is held up, it may be impossible to properly maintain the property until it’s sold.
Duties and responsibilities should be divided up amongst siblings so that the primary caregiver does not become burdened and burned out or become resentful of the freedom his sibling still enjoy. If a parent can stay in his own home until the end, that makes it easier for siblings to transition in and out, and the parent is more comfortable being cared for in familiar surroundings.
If you can afford it, hire a part time caregiver to relieve the primary for a few hours each week, it is not a luxury. The primary caregiver needs to feel connected to the outside world through lunch with friends or a haircut, etc. Friends will tell you about social agencies that provide such services for free, but if your elder has a annual pension worth more that $21,000, free services will not apply for them.
Most agencies that provide home healthcare charge upwards of $25 an hour, so it is necessary to line up your people and services in advance. Once you find yourself in need, it will be difficult to call and research agencies, schedule and hold interviews, and provide care for your parent at the same time. Plan in advance, with your elder, to find someone he or she likes or feels comfortable with. If that person is retired or looking to pick up some extra income, they may be willing to work for a minimum hourly wage.
Begin now to look at obituaries and to ask questions about the kind of service they’d like to have. Know the information you will need for a death notice and for the funeral program. When was your mom or dad baptized? What was the name of their high school? What are the proper spellings of their parents’ names? What clubs and organizations did they belong to? What awards or accomplishments are they proud of? This is their final send off and you must do it with recognition of the full lives they’ve lived.