The Need to Stabilize

Mom. Family. Money.

Stability. We all look for stability. Whether we are speaking of a stable relationship, home life, work atmosphere, income, or the many other places in our lives, we desire stability. Oftentimes, we get so caught up seeking stability that we take it for granted. Specifically speaking, when our health is stable, we don’t seem to care about it.

Sometimes health events creep up on you less suddenly – you see them coming and you have time to plan. However, other times they spring out at you like a roaring lion that you did not expect and can have devastating consequences. Today we’re going to talk about what to do when you get blindsided by an unexpected change in a parent’s health.

One of the first keys is to stabilize the situation in three basic areas:

  1. Stability for your parent
  2. Stabilizing things for you
  3. Stabilize the money

Stability for the Parent

The obvious first place to start is your parents health. What has happened to create the emergency? Are they in the hospital, are they getting needed Medical Care? Is there anything else that needs to be done? Second opinions? What’s next? When a parent has suffered a health crisis, this event can catch everyone off guard. The adult kids often find themselves struggling to determine what happened and what to do next?

A place to start after you have gathered your wits about you is to talk to the medical staff to determine their recommendations as to future care needs. What do they recommend? If it is safe for Mom or Dad to go home? What needs to be set up at home to help ensure that they get the care necessary and to maintain their health and quality of life?

Watch, Observe, Learn

It’s also important to do a family assessment. Now that this health event has happened, no doubt it has changed a few things. What are Mom and Dad now struggling with that they could easily do six months ago? What specific areas do you need to take action to stabilize the situation at home?

If Mom and Dad still have cognitive ability, talk to them. Now that this event has happened, talk to them about what they want and who they want around them. Try to determine how they’re feeling about the process. What activities can they now engage in to restore their quality of life?

We never know when bad things are going to happen, either to us or to our parents. The keys are to be prepared for these sudden unwelcome “surprises” that life throws at us AND to know how to respond appropriately when change does occur.
If it’s time for you to today get your ducks in a row, download the Phase 1 Planning Checklist today

Stabilizing for the Family

The second area you will need to stabilize is you, your family, and your siblings. Know that this health event has had a significant impact on your life. Is everyone okay? Everyone’s stress might be off the charts. How are family members coping?

After Mom and Dad go home, some family members often chip in to help. Typically some family members are doing too much and are on the verge of burnout or overwhelm, while other family members could do more but may just not know what to do.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of scheduling. The ones that are really busy with their own families or their jobs may love Mom and Dad and want to help but just don’t know how to effectively contribute. This is where Mom Centered Family Meeting protocol can help.

The siblings can discuss Mom and Dad’s needs and determine what tasks are needed. Then the task can effectively be divided amongst the family members and it can be determined who will do what and when. Even remote family members can do a lot of tasks online. The key is communication. It’s very important that all family members communicate with each other so as to let them know what has been done. Which activities is Mom now struggling to perform and now needs help?

Stabilize the Money

The third area of stabilization is money. Money can go quickly, especially when a parent is suffering after a health crisis. It is important to determine (as quickly as possible) how much money is available, get consensus on how it is to be used for Mom or Dad’s care, and determine who is authorized to access the money to use for their benefit.

It could be that in the past Mom and Dad’s income exceeded their expenses and they were doing fine with their finances. As a matter of fact they were even stashing some money into savings every month. Now that additional care may be needed at home, which may be paid out of pocket, the money flow might now be going the other way. It’s important to have a family meeting to determine how long care can be provided at home.

MOM Centered Family Meeting

Adobe Asset ID: #299372460

The money conversation is a tough one to have. Sometimes your parents won’t have the extra money to pay for non-medical home care for an extended period of time. Family members may offer to contribute time to help supplement the care Mom or Dad now requires at home. They may even wish to contribute money to allow the outside care to continue.

It’s important to check into the availability of other Community Resources such as adult daycare facilities. Mom or Dad may be able to stay in an adult day care or local senior centers for part of the day, which can enable the adult kids to continue to work. Many senior centers provide local transportation to and from their facility and provide a noon meal. Additionally they provide socialization during the day which will keep Mom and Dad engaged and active while they are there.

Best wishes to you and your family as you attempt to provide stabilization for Mom, stabilization for the family and stabilization of the money supply.

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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