Steps to Helping Care for a Parent

Helping one’s parents is a daunting task. And sometimes, it helps to be clear about your expectations.

Some families find “Personal Care Contracts” (PCCs) to be useful. This is a formal agreement set up by a lawyer between an adult child caregiver and her dependant parent.

There are some initial steps to consider:

Step 1

You need to have a plan to resolve what seems to be an inevitable conflict that arises from the role reversal of parent and child. Pull out all the stops not to lose your temper. Your parents may try to order you around or tell you the way things should be, be aware that they are probably going to continue behavior they developed years ago. Be patient, respectful and learn to help them learn to change this or accept it and find a way to deal with it that works for you both.

Step 2

Discuss and compromise with your parents the terms of living together this time around- what their needs are, and who will manage them. Consider the advantage of treating your relationship not as an employee type arrangement, but as a team, sharing the same goals and working towards them co-operatively. Talk openly and clearly.

Step 3

Get all your facts straight. Assemble a written list of your parents’ doctors’ names, specialties, and a complete phone list of their friends, for both you and your parents’ use. With your parents’ permission, discuss with their physicians their medical needs. Audit all their prescriptions and confirm that one competent physician is aware of all medications prescribed and being taken to ensure that there is no duplication, adverse drug affects and that they are all still needed. Where a substantial amount of medication is involved, enlist the aid of a pharmacist to provide an opinion as to the necessity, impact and possible better alternatives that might be considered. This auditing process should continue on a regular basis to ensure the well-being of your parents.

Step 4

Make a detailed written schedule for giving your parents their medications. You should utilize a proper pill dispenser system and be fully familiar with each medication, and ensure that you are accurately dispensing them. If your parents resist taking the medications, discuss this with their physician and involve your parents as a full participants in the process.

Step 5

For conflicts that cannot be resolved, enlist the aid of parties respected by both you and your parent who may provide some alternate ideas. Whenever possible anticipate areas of conflict and plan possible remedial and ameliorative actions to either reduce or eliminate the anticipated problems.

Step 6

If you are caring for a loved one or receiving care, a “Personal Care Contract” (‘PCC’ ) be a good idea. You should consult with a professional who can advise on possible tax consequences and/or estate planning issues, and has experience with such arrangements. It is better to set up the ‘PCC’ while a parent is of sound mind and capable, as these arrangements become more complicated if a person acting as power of attorney signs the agreement.