When the primary caregiver fails, it’s really hard to quickly pick up the pieces. In this case, Mom has been caring for Dad with Alzheimer’s, but now Mom has health issues that landed her in the hospital.
If the caregiver ends up in the hospital, the mad scramble from Plan B begins. Most families are totally unprepared and it surprises me how often this happens given all the data available to educate us on how important it is to have a plan in place.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance nearly three quarters (72%) of caregivers reported that they had not gone to the doctor as often as they should, and more than half (55%) had missed doctors appointments.
More alarming is that elderly spousal caregivers (aged 66-96) have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.
If you have a parent who is filling this role, it’s time to sit down and have a real conversation about how to create a Plan B should something happen to them. Is there some way to help them now before a crisis? What can you do now to be prepared to easily step in if they are unable to fill the day-to-day role of caregiver?
Maybe over dinner or a cup of tea, could you ask:
- Tell me about your average day. How often and how are you helping mom/dad?
- If you fell and ended up in the hospital, what could I do to help mom/dad?
- Have you found any local support groups?
Spousal support groups can really help since many will discuss how to set up Plan B as well as how to minimize the stress of caregiving. In fact, I heard these stats from a support group leader.
The best way to help is to start from a place to help the caregiver be successful. Most of the pushback I see is when the family wants to take over. Start by asking for a job you could do to help them both.
Trying to put plans into place from the hospital or from another state just creates more stress for everyone. I hope you will have an opportunity to discuss this before you may ever need to use what you learn.
If you need to get some immediate help to navigate medical issues, I hope you will look into finding a local Aging Life Care Manager. You can learn more or search for one in your area at www.aginglifecare.org.
If you want a guide to start having a conversation around what you need to step in and help, you can use this list of key documents and information you would need to help manage the finances and maintain the household.
The reality is we should all have a Plan B in place. I hope this guide will help get started. Shared.