Future Care Needs

Biggest Challenge: My 85-year-old mom will not discuss her future care needs. She still drives & rarely asks for help. Doesn't want to be a burden. I will be her only future caregiver.

--Bev 

Response from DM:

Dear Bev,

You are fortunate to have a parent who is still independent at the age of 85.  I truly understand your concern and at the same time, I understand your mother’s need to demonstrate her obvious abilities to run her own life.

There are things that you can do now to enhance her independence (while giving you peace of mind), such as installing safety features throughout the house, including grab bars in the bathroom and adequate lighting both inside and out. Appliances, wiring and outlets need to be inspected to make sure everything is done properly. Ask yourself questions, such as: Are all the doors and windows secure? Are the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in working order? Is a safety alarm needed? Would she like to have a personal alarm necklace to wear at home, so in the event of a fall she’ll be able to contact someone, even if she cannot get to a phone?

That said, the best time to have the conversation regarding her future is now, while she is capable both physically and mentally of giving you details regarding what she would want in the case of an unforeseen event or accident, or if she becomes unable to speak for herself. You always want to carry out your mother’s wishes, but to do that you have to first know what they are, and you need to get them in writing. The conversation needs to start with how concerned you are about her. Let her know how your constant worrying about her is affecting your work, family relationships, and health. Next, determine if she has all the necessary legal and financial papers in order. It is important that these are papers up to date, and that a trusted person is authorized to carry out her stated thoughts, so that your mother’s wishes will be followed. This might be a difficult conversation for both of you, but the time to have it is now.

Most sincerely,

Dr. Marion

 

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