The coronavirus pandemic has changed many things. One thing it has not changed, however, is that many of us still need to make decisions for our older family members. And when these decisions deal with their care or final wishes, we can’t put them off until the crisis has ended. If you find yourself struggling, keep reading for advice on what to do during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.
First and foremost, if you and your senior parents don’t have legal documents and protections in place, don’t wait. While these are certainly important all the time, they are even more so now since you may not be able to physically be with your loved one, and care decisions may have to be made remotely. Documents that you should have include:
- Durable power of attorney (health care). A durable power of attorney for health care gives you, the caretaker, legal rights to make health decisions for your loved one. This consists of actions such as seeking specialized treatment or refusing care altogether. This will also ensure that you can access medical records so that you can arm yourself with information to make the best decisions possible.
- Medical directive. A medical directive, or living will, takes many decisions out of your hands. This is a legally binding document written while your loved one has full mental capacity. It states, among other things, his or her wishes for resuscitation and pain relief.
- A will is more or less a list of assets that your elderly loved one wants distributed and to whom. If you are the executor, you are responsible for carrying out these wishes.
- Power of attorney (finances). A power of attorney for finances makes you your loved one’s financial agent. This gives you the power to help manage investments, pay debts, and buy insurance products on his/her behalf.
Once you have legal protections and safeguards in place, you can begin making decisions about your loved one’s living arrangements.
Choosing end-of-life accommodations does not mean that your loved one is in imminent danger of dying. What it means is that you are making a decision on where your loved one will live, which is particularly important if the senior is disabled or lives alone. An assisted living center is an excellent choice because your loved one can transition from assisted living to memory care, and receive supervision if experiencing cognitive dysfunction.
Before you make your move, you’ll need to consider finances. If you determine that you must ultimately sell your loved one’s home to pay for his/her end-of-life living arrangements, do not let the pandemic stop you. As Redfin explains, selling during the outbreak may look a bit different, and you’ll likely want your agent to focus on video chats, virtual staging, virtual open houses, and 3D walkthroughs. Although home demand is waning, the real estate market is still strong.
Talking It Through
Understandably, making care decisions for your loved one is difficult. After all, he or she made most of your care decisions when you were a child, and a role reversal is challenging to navigate. Keep your loved one in the loop, and remind him/her that the decisions you make now are out of love. Maintain a tone of respect, and be patient if the senior doesn’t immediately agree to an idea.
The pandemic has brought many things to a standstill, but caring for the ones you love is not one of them. Although you may not always be there with them, you can still make choices that will ensure their quality of life for the rest of their years.
Does your senior loved one need some extra support at home? Stay Home Care provides compassionate non-medical home care in Nashville and the surrounding areas so your loved one can live comfortably and independently at home. Call us any time at 615-802-6594.