Nobody planned for your future care more than your mother, who devoted countless hours to making sure you were happy, healthy and comfortable. Now, as your mom ages, it’s your turn to help her plan for her future care. It is always difficult to tell what the future might bring for her, from dealing with doctors to moving to an assisted care facility, but you can assist her at every step along the way.
Here are 7 ways you can help your mother start planning for her future care.
1. Talk about it.
Start a conversation with your mother regarding her wishes for her future care. While you can instigate the conversation, remember that it is ultimately up to your mother to decide her own future. A good way to begin is to ask your mother if she has any plans or concerns for the future; try to listen uncritically, without making judgments about the fears or desires she expresses.
Assure her that you will do everything within reason to ensure her wishes come true.
2. In-home care, assisted care, or nursing home?
Discuss your mother’s housing preferences. Most people want to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Reassure your mother that you will help her remain at home – even with assisted care – but ask her what she would like to do in the event that staying at home is no longer possible. Your mom might want to live in an assisted living facility, with you, or with one of your siblings. In any case, it is best to have the discussion before the need ever arises.
3. Raise your hand.
Develop a volunteer support network that doubles as a task force that helps smooth out each transition in your mother’s life. You can serve as the medical liaison that helps your mother choose a doctor, for example, while your brother can volunteer to be Chief Furniture Mover in the event your mother chooses to move to a retirement community that offers assisted care.
4. Help sort out finances.
Review your mother’s financial situation with her. You may want to consult with an eldercare professional to find out what short-term and long-term options your mother can afford. Make sure your mom understands the costs of in-home care versus moving to an assisted living facility.
5. Assess the quality of your mother’s medical care.
Determine whether your mother is satisfied with the medical care provided by her current doctor and medical team as medical care will come to play an increasingly important role in her life (and yours) as she gets older.
6. Ensure she has grace and dignity to the end.
Talk about end of life care. Find out whether you mother wants doctors to put her on life support if she cannot breathe on her own, and if she wants doctors and nurses to perform CPR if her heart stops beating. Discuss the possibility of organ donation.
7. Help your mom plan her funeral.
Ask about your mother’s wishes for her funeral, right down to the dress she would like to wear and her choices for music. Nobody likes talking about death but a frank and open discussion is the only way you will be sure to honor your mother’s wishes. Find out if she prefers cremation. Respect how difficult the conversation must be for her, and assure her that you will do everything possible to fulfill her wishes.
Don’t think of it as an obligation.
Helping your mother plan her future care can be one of the most memorable experiences you will share with her. Show your mom how much her care meant to you by always acting in the most supportive, loving way possible as your mother ages. You will be so glad you did.