Planning You and Your Declining Parent
Early morning is my favorite time of the day. As I’m writing this, I’m looking out at the early morning sky. It’s beautiful outside. Hope you’re also able to take a minute to enjoy the view. Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day activities, that we forget to look up and see the beautiful tapestry that God has again put right in front of our eyes. Another beautiful gift to start another day. Whenever I take time to notice this it helps the day get off to a better start.
Unfortunately, I don’t take the time to enjoy the view every day. I get up on a dead run. Grab a cup of coffee and head out to a day filled with emails, meetings and stress. I think today was a good reminder for me to take time to look up and enjoy.
The Power of a Question
I remember several years ago that I listened to a Tony Robbins video where he talked about the power of a question. The gist of the talk was to ask yourself a question (that you don’t currently have the answer to) and think about it – not fret over it or worry about it. Just ask the question. Write it down and read when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
It’s amazing how by just asking a question and giving yourself some time to reflect, that the answer will occur to you when you least expect it. Some may say that this is your subconscious mind going to work to give us an answer. Some would say we just figured it out. Others would say that God gave us an answer to our prayers. There is probably some truth in all of that. But the process works. Rather than fretting and worrying about it – just ask the question.
But what about taking action? Can we still plan?
But what about taking action? Yes (as you know) providing care for a declining Senior, along with everything else you are doing, requires a massive amount of action on a daily basis. So, we don’t get to just ask a question and do nothing in the meantime. But if we just do the same busy work every day without taking time to think and plan, we may be missing out on a much better way to do things. A way that will allow us to improve the quality of life for ourselves and our parent.
A Paradigm Shift
If your beloved elderly parent suffers a health crisis, there will likely be a paradigm shift in your life. Things will probably get more hectic and you will be stretched thin. If this happens, it’s a good idea to identify the “big rocks”.
An obvious place to start is to take a quick assessment of the whole family. Don’t assume anything – ask questions! Especially if the health even happened suddenly – make sure your beloved Senior is okay – but also consider the effects that the crisis may have had on you and your family. Planning will be key! When a Senior declines in health, especially if the decline is sudden, it is common for families to spend so much time focusing on their parents that they forget to tend to their own needs.
So, if something like this happens in your family, as soon as your parent is safe and stable, focus on the big rocks.
The Big Rocks
- Self-Care. Look after yourself. If you have been on an airplane during an emergency, you know that they tell you to first put the mask on yourself, then to tend to the needs of those with you. Why? If you pass out from lack of oxygen, then you won’t be able to assist any children or other’s dependent on you for help, guidance and support. Similarly, if you allow yourself to burn out as a result of sole focus on a parent, while ignoring your own health, then bad things may happen.
- Legal Planning. As soon as possible, determine the existence (or not) of your parent’s legal planning documentation. If they want and need your help, it’s critical to know whether they have authorized someone to make decisions on their behalf.
- Finances. Again, if your parent wants or needs your assistance, what resources do they have available to help pay for their care. Where are their accounts located and do you have access?
- Family situation. Have communication channels been established? Are all family members cooperating and communicating with each other? Are all family members responsible for completion of at least one task?
- Long term battle plan. Come up with a long-term battle plan for your parent’s care and your care. It’s important to start thinking about some of the above issues so that you can be confident in knowing that things are under control. The goal is to create like some instant stability as soon as possible after the crisis.
By taking a few minutes a day to reflect and plan out our day, we can often discover a way to make things flow smoother. Give it a try. You may discover that this is a few minutes well spent!
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