Friday, June 26, 2009

Caregiving - Beginning Stages

Posted by Leona Bergstrom

Beginning Stages
These stages sure do play themselves out in real life! This week two of my cousins are making some tough choices about care for their respective mothers. One of my aunts needs skilled nursing care following a devastating stroke. The other aunt is requiring more assistance as she tries to live independently in her apartment.

Both of my cousins are benefiting from thinking ahead and researching the choices for “when the day comes.” While the decisions they are making are tough ones, they can rest easier knowing that they’ve studied the options. The real difficulty comes in who makes the decisions.

It is always optimal if our loved one is a part of the decision making team. Usually we are afraid to ask our parents what they want or what choice sounds the best because we have so many fears. We are afraid that our parent will think that we think he/she is dying. Or, that we think they can’t take care of themselves anymore – or any number of reasons that, while they may be true, seem to be off the radar for discussion. But in reality, no one really likes for others to make life decisions FOR us. We all want to have a say in what is happening, no matter how dire it may seem.

The conversation is sometimes tricky. My friend David Solie has done some great work in this area. We’ve recommended his book before, but let’s do it again: How to Say It to Seniors, by David Solie, Prentice Hall Press. Or read his blog on parent care at

For information on resources in a community, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or Elder Care Locater at or call 800.677.1116
(Photo by maja-1x, shared via Flickr)

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