How quickly time goes by. One day, we are small children, gazing intently up at the world. In what seems a blink of an eye, we find ourselves in adulthood. Ideally, our parents watch over us, guide us, and help us through our lives. They are our cheering section, delighting in our triumphs and commiserating with our failings. As we live our own lives, we often fail to notice that our parents are growing older.
The signs of aging become difficult to ignore. Forgetfulness, lack of energy, failing eyesight, hearing loss, and mobility issues are all normal signs of aging. At what point should you intervene?
This book will help you to connect with your aging parent in a meaningful way while collecting family memories. Together, you will build upon your current relationship, and get to know your parent on a more personal level in the process. It is realistic to think about learning all you can about your parent in the time that you have left together.
If you are interested in this book, it is likely that you are already in the midst of caring for your parent. You will gain a deeper understanding of issues your parent may be dealing with. I will help you to identify those people who will be most helpful to you and your parent; as well as prepare you to make certain decisions on your parent’s behalf should this become necessary.
I will also help to prepare you to introduce these difficult topics such as end-of-life issues and have those difficult conversations regarding decision-making. This is necessary to broach not only with your parent, but also with other members of your family that will be involved. I will interchange the pronouns “he” and “she” when referring to your parents, as this book will be helpful in caring for either parent.
We will discuss some of the many issues that may complicate the task of caregiving for a parent. These may include understanding the reversal of roles, the differences in family dynamics, proximity to your parent, and places to go for help in the area to facilitate care.
Finally, I will guide you through activities created to facilitate meaningful conversations as you record your parent’s legacy.
This book is divided into six sections:
- Section 1, “An Overview of Caregiving”, will introduce you to terms that are often used in the eldercare industry. Medicare and Medicaid will be discussed, as well as navigating the costs of care for your parent. Places that may be of assistance in finding your parent the appropriate care for your specific situation will also be introduced.
- Section 2, “Issues You May Be Facing”, will assist you in evaluating your own needs to avoid burnout. In addition to discussing how to meet your needs as a caregiver, we will cover your past and present relationship with your parent; examine your role in caregiving; discuss sibling issues; living arrangements; and your proximity to your parent’s home. You will also conduct a resource assessment to determine who may be helpful in assisting you with the many aspects of caregiving. The definition of an entourage is “A retinue of attendants, associates, or followers”. Put simply, whom can you call upon for different needs? Who is in your entourage?
- Section 3, “Issues Your Parent May Be Facing”, covers fear of dependency, physical limitations, health problems, coping with the deaths of friends and other family members, and fear of mental decline, as well as ways that you can help your parent cope.
- Section 4, “Grief in Adults and In Children”, covers both bereavement after a death and anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is what you may be feeling as your parent declines in physical and mental health. If your parent is losing his mental faculties, loved ones may be grieving for the lost relationship. Anticipatory grief is a reaction to expected loss. Others who know your parent may also be grieving, including siblings and grandchildren.
- Section 5, “Documenting Important Decisions”, discusses several difficult topics that you may need to address with your parent. There are decisions to be made in many areas. You must think through legal and medical decisions, as well as financial considerations. At some point, you may need to discuss end-of-life care and funeral arrangements. As difficult as the whole process may be, it is essential to begin now.
- Section 6, “Meaningful Conversations”, is a workbook of activities and ideas to help you to make the best of your remaining time and your relationship with your parent.
At the end of the book, you will see a “Recommended Reading” section, Works Cited, and a list of “Places to Turn To For Help.”
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