No one ever anticipates becoming ill or disabled to the point that they would be unable to care for themselves. That means, in most cases, the person you are caring for right now never intended to have you in this role--leaving both of you unprepared and ill-equipped for the future.
You probably stepped in because you saw a need--and an immediate one at that. There likely wasn't a lot of time to "talk through" the situation and perfectly plan out your caregiving role.
That's why at your earliest chance possible, you must begin to have hard conversations with your loved ones to ensure everyone is on the same page and that there's enough time to put a solid plan in place for their finances and physical care. Remember, even choosing a great nursing home or assisted living facility can seem almost impossible if you run up against waitlists or financial hurdles. The time to plan is now!
To get the conversations rolling, here are a few key issues to begin discussing with your loved elder. Approach them gently with your loved one's continued independence and best wishes in mind, as you ask:
- What are your wishes for emergency or end-of-life medical care (i.e. life support, feeding tubes)?
- Are there any lifesaving procedures you would NEVER want?
- Who do you trust to make medical decisions and communicate with your doctors if you are unable to speak for yourself?
- What are your thoughts on long-term care? If it seems you are becoming too sick to live at home, what are your thoughts on assisted living or a nursing home?
- Do you have a Will, Trust, or other estate planning documents in place? Where can we find them and are they up to date?
- Who have you named in your "legal helper" roles (i.e. Power of Attorney)? Where can we find the documents we need to handle your affairs in an emergency?
In all, you will find that knowing your loved one's wishes in these difficult situations will make your job as a caretaker much easier, as you will be prepared to make appropriate decisions under pressure and avoid the many financial struggles that families face when attempting to secure long-term care. Don't forget to also stay in close contact with an estate planning & elder law attorney, who can help you utilize legal tools such as living trusts, irrevocable trusts (Medi-Cal Asset Protection Trust), and powers of attorney -- in order to stay in control and protect family assets from being lost to creditors, nursing homes and/or the government.
Our firm specializes in helping families face these very difficult issues. Our elder law practice offers Life Care & Medi-Cal Planning. To learn more, just schedule a consultation by calling (818) 292-8160 or sending us an email using the "Contact Us" box below.