This is how it can feel when you begin planning care for your aging parent.
Because most people find themselves in the midst of the caregiving maze suddenly and without preparation — such as it is when an aging parent falls or otherwise requires medical attention for the first time — there is a natural tendency to reach for the quickest way back to the way things were. Adult daughters and sons want to know who they can call for the answers to their heap of new questions about home care, assisted living, and the seemingly more intractable conundrums like what to do when mom or dad refuses to eat or shower, or go to the doctor.
A reader of this blog who is caring for her 91-year-old mother with dementia recently got in touch to ask one of the first and most important of questions people have as caregiving begins:
Whose expertise in the community should I be seeking out to help me? Should it be a geriatric doctor? A geriatric care manager? A social worker? And how can I be sure that these individuals will advise me well?
My answer to her is that she will likely need them all. AND that finding and engaging a network of competent providers who can help her make the right decisions is likely to take time as well as a few doses of trial and error.
But the best way to begin planning care for an aging parent is to take a deep breath and know that the spot in which you stand is well worn.
Then, look to the community in which your aging parent lives to find well-established organizations that can shed light on the path (The Alzheimer’s Association and Eldercare Locator spring to mind as worthwhile phone calls).
Beyond this — and here is what I believe to be the most critical step of all — make every effort to connect with others who have been where you are. Seek out a caregiver support group and what’s more, seek out the lessons learned by those you meet.
Doing so will likely save you time and help you feel less overwhelmed.