PHCA works with your family to ensure you can support and respect your aging parents’ wishes for independence and dignity. As children we want the best for our parents, but how do we really know what that is unless we ask them? Being informed and having flexibility and choice are essential. The key is to start talking and planning before you need it!
Caregiver burnout is a big concern, so how do we make decisions that will support quality of life and help sandwich generation families balance the multiple demands?
PHCA uses a systematic 7 step approach that is tailored to each family’s needs by:
- Creating a baseline Health Assessment
- Identifying strengths and challenges
- Establishing family goals and priorities
- Collaborating with family & the health team for comprehensive information
- Creating a plan for healthy aging with recommendations & resources
- Partnering with the family to finalize the plan
- Implementing, evaluating and modifying the plan as necessary
By exploring issues before they become a crisis, emotions are lower and clear direction can be provided. Your family can confidently represent your health care decisions, fund your care, manage your financial and legal affairs and respect your final wishes. Most families believe they have done this, but in reality they have only scratched the surface and have unknowingly left a huge burden of unknowns for their family.
The window of opportunity for planning is BEFORE a health crisis occurs because the available options diminish quickly with declining health. Dementia and cognitive impairment from other illnesses will close the door on verbalizing and documenting personal wishes.
By establishing a Parent Care Plan:
- Family stress levels are reduced by knowing parents wishes
- Early health issues are caught and addressed
- Realistic goals and priorities can be established
- Uncertainty and the unknown can be discussed in a neutral and supported environment
- Sensitive topics can be introduced and planned for, eg. End of Life planning
- Appropriate Legal authority is determined and documented
- Crisis is reduced
- Costs of unplanned or reactive care are reduced
- Families can work together, not pull apart
Real Life Case Study (names changed for confidentiality):
Dennis had been providing care for his wife Jean with Multiple Sclerosis for several years. He was grateful for the opportunity to care for her in return for her support during his busy years in the corporate world. As Jeans condition worsened their family doctor referred them to Homecare for support services, which unfortunately didn’t meet their needs. The stress of not knowing who or when the caregiver would turn up led to Dennis cancelling the services. Dennis still needed time away for his own mental and physical health but what were the alternatives?
PHCA was introduced to this family by Simon, their only child, concerned about his Dad’s declining health under the pressures of caregiving. PHCA was able to provide access to high quality in-home caregivers who are carefully matched to their clients. Dennis got time to himself and a break from cooking and cleaning. When Dennis expressed a desire to accompany his family for a final trip back to his homeland, PHCA was able to access respite care for the 2 week period that he needed.
With support services to help care for Jean, Dennis’ health improved, his son’s stress level lessened and Jean enjoyed the interactions and support from the caregivers she got to know well. Dennis returned to golfing once a week with the senior’s league. With stability, longer term planning needs could be addressed. PHCA worked with the family to establish health wishes for incapacity, supports as needs increased and possible housing alternatives in the future. Legal documents were updated and important discussions around finances for funding care needs were established. Simon now understood their wishes, his responsibilities and truly feels prepared for the first time.
Risk factors in caring for aging parents:
- Being an only child- you bear all the responsibilities, or do you?
- Having very large or blended families-reaching common understanding and consensus
- Having no children-finding appropriate representatives for health, financial & legal decision making
- Being geographically distant from your family
- Absent or incomplete planning- costs (time & money) of the court system
- Funding for care needs; inadequate or absent
- Not having legal authority to represent loved ones
- Lack of guidance from loved ones on critical values and goals for decision making
- Juggling too many responsibilities without support