In many families it takes several family members working cooperatively with medical providers to meet the needs of aging family members. Sometimes the process is smooth and easy, but sometimes it brings greater conflict. In some families, a parent’s illness can change the entire family dynamic. Siblings living separate lives for many years must communicate on a regular basis, perhaps more than they have in a long time. Family and friends might meet with you and your loved one to discuss the care needed, the plan, and ask for help.
The best way to start is to list the tasks or chores that need to be done and match them to family members’ abilities and availability.
Problems here can be:
- Older person rejects assistance
- Older person is difficult to spend time with
- Family members have limited time
- Family members live out of town
The list of tasks can be reviewed to determine if some of them need not be done in person - ‘indirect’ care tasks can include paying bills, banking, and managing insurance paperwork.
Often there is one family member who has a closer relationship with the older person. Perhaps this person is better suited for making appointments or grocery shopping. As this person takes on the role of escort to appointments, he or she should be proactive in helping the doctor get to know both the older adult and the caregiver. Make sure the doctor has all of the family contact information and copies of the POA (Power of Attorney
Doctors cannot share information about a patient’s medical care or health status without permission from the patient. A release of information should be signed so that the physician can speak to family members.