How to create a successful
family plan for parents' needs
Families too often are not prepared psychologically, socially or
financially to deal with the needs of aging parents.
That's why the University of Texas-Houston
Health Science Center's Aging Resource Information Support and Education
(ARISE) program encourages family meetings to develop a plan to
meet senior parents' needs before an emergency forces action.
To ease the tensions of such a meeting and make
sure nothing is overlooked, the Center of Aging recommends:
- Include all siblings.
If everyone can't be there in person, make sure they're present
- Prepare a checklist of
signs that mom or dad may need help so each child can use it as
a reference. Things to look for include weight loss, memory
loss, change in personal hygiene habits, change in sleep patterns
and financial mismanagement (e.g., non-payment of bills).
parental assistance responsibilities logically and fairly.
If a brother lives near mom, let him come over to do her laundry.
If a sister lives in another state, have her pay mom's monthly
- Don't blame -- each other
or your parent. Often, the Center notes, the child who lives
nearest the parent bears the brunt of sibling anger for natural
aging processes affecting their parent.
- Be flexible. Changing
needs mean changing ways to deal with them.
- Reach a consensus
on how to best care for your aging parent, but accept that not
everyone will agree with the final plan.
- Don't forget about your
own family. The Center says the sandwich generation children
frequently take their spouse or kids for granted when they are
concentrating on the needs of mom or dad.
- Remember that you can't
be the "super mom" -- even to your own parents.
When the pressure gets to be too much, seek professional caregiver
- Make your parents an integral
part of the get-together. They are why you're meeting, so
respect their needs and wishes and maintain their dignity.
-- Updated: May 3, 2004