The time to make plans and talk about difficult subjects is always best when there is not a crisis. Even though it may seem like it is too soon to start thinking about in-home care and resources to help someone at home, it is beneficial to have this conversation early and often.

Most of us live our lives without thinking of possible crises. However, when Mom or Dad has a stroke or falls and breaks a hip, many families are ill prepared to manage. Making sure a discussion regarding financial and medical issues is important. Who can pay bills when Mom can't? How is she going to pay her rent? Does the family know if Mom has a checking account, a life insurance policy, or other important insurance details? If Dad is a widow and has a stroke and can no longer speak does the family know of his medical wishes? Do families have medical paperwork filled out and copies given to the person's primary physician? These questions are important when it comes to making sure your loved ones get the best care and keeping your family afloat in times of crisis.

It is best to start by talking with the person about his or her wishes for the future. What are the person’s goals and expectations? Can the support system help the person when needs, such as personal care, housekeeping, or errands, arise? If needed, would the individual be open to having a professional agency come into the home to help provide care? What is the person’s financial situation? Who will help ensure that the person’s wishes are carried out when needed?

Having these conversations proactively can ensure that the person’s wishes are heard and understood and can allow for time for families to do their own research on agencies, community resources, and any legal documentation that may need to be completed, such as a Durable Power of Attorney.

There are agencies that can help to provide information to individuals who want to learn more about community based resources. Both the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan and the Caregiver Resource Network can help people explore what resources may be applicable to their unique situation and how to get connected with services.

Having conversations with friends and family members, determining what one’s personal preferences are, and taking enough time to become more knowledgeable about resources and services can all be helpful ways to be proactive in planning for care and will hopefully prevent a crisis situation.

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