family caregiver

What do I do when Momma’s health begins to decline?  This sounds like an odd question to most, but if your Momma’s health is declining, you can relate.  At some point, you realize that “business as usual” just won’t cut it any more.  When you stop by to visit with Momma, things are just not quite right.  There are many warning signs and most of the signs are intuitive, at least at first.

If Momma has always been a meticulous housekeeper, you notice that things are looking a little unkempt.  Maybe she has always been an early riser – but lately Momma is still in bed when you stop by to visit in the morning.  You notice a slight smell and wonder whether she is bathing regularly.   Her clothes are rumpled and she appears to be wearing the same thing several days in a row.  You start checking her prescription drugs and suspect that she is missing some doses.  

None of these things are catastrophic, but are more like clues.  Clues that something is going on and maybe it’s time for you to start taking a more hands-on role in Momma’s Care Plan.  If you have noticed some of these warning signs and suspect that it’s time for a little intervention, here are 5 steps you can take in the right direction:

Do you wish you could take this information with you? Now you can! Use this checklist to get headed in the right direction:

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The First 5 Planning Steps

  1. Schedule an appointment for Momma to meet with a Geriatric Physician or medical professional that deals mainly with the problems of the Elderly.  It could be that she is perfectly healthy and that there are no problems at all.  If this is the case, great!  Stop by for lunch on the way home and split a piece of carrot cake to celebrate!  However, if there is something going on, it’s best to know early.  Perhaps a change in medication, therapy or other factors can make a difference.  Even if Momma receives a bad diagnosis, it’s best to know early on so that the appropriate planning process can begin.
  2. Family Meeting.  Based on the diagnosis received from the physician and your best-judgment gleaned from personal observations, you may need to have a sit down talk with Momma and any siblings.  This should not be a confrontational meeting, but a “we want to help” type of meeting.  This meeting should overflow with reassurance and love.  If you Momma is like mine, she will most likely want to stay at  home and have as little outside intervention as possible.
  3. Arrange Schedules and Delegate Tasks.  The home with some assistance stage is what we refer to as Journey Stop #1.  If it is possible for the “kids” to arrange their schedule to check on Momma on a very regular basis, this may work for a while.  At this stage make use of all of the new appropriate technology available, such as medical alert buttons, electronic medication reminder systems (with notification to the kids if she didn’t take it), video monitoring, etc. You may need to also start home care as needed.
  4. Getting Finances in Order.  In an earlier blog post, we discussed the need to meet with your financial advisor to make sure that all assets were appropriately invested for this stage in life.  The Senior should designate a person(s) to be able to access funds to be used for the Senior’s benefit in the event of incapacity.  (Review our prior posts How to Actually Be Successful with Finance Evaluations and Financial Planning to Help Pay for Senior’s Health Care Costs).
  5. Do Legal Planning.  Most Americans (including Seniors) have not planned at all.  Many of those who have planned have obsolete estate planning documents.  Life changes, plans change and laws change – therefore your legal plan may need to change too.  If Momma is at Journey Stop #1 and still has capacity. You should encourage her to schedule an appointment with her Elder Law Attorney for a review.  (See,Scurrying to Help Momma Plan).

These tips are available for you to Download and keep for reference on a Free one-page downloadable checklist.  To grab your checklist, click below:

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At Journey Stop #1, there are many factors to consider.  The ones listed in this post are just a start. But doing these things will help get the best plan in place for Momma.

About the Author

Doug & his wife Cindy have not only helped hundreds of families with their estate planning and elder law needs over the years, but have personal experience as caregivers and advocates for their Loved Ones as well.

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