Here are tips to creating your own DIY senior care action plan:
Lay out options.
Whether you hold a formal family meeting or not, make sure all family members understand care options-even if they ultimately won't be making the final decision. Caring for aging parents, for example, does not mean your loved one must be forced into a nursing home. Your parent might be able to stay at home with the help of a regular, outside caregiver. Some companies offer non-medical services such as meal preparation, laundry, and grocery shopping. A good-quality caregiver can be an ideal solution, allowing dad to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. Elder care solutions also include inviting the loved one to live with a family member.
Make sure everyone is aware of the pros and cons of each caring for aging parent strategy. For instance, while putting dad in a nursing facility takes the pressure of round-the-clock care off of your family, it can be very costly and it might expose your loved one to risks, such as nursing home abuses.
Keep the lines of communication open.
Caring for aging parents also means creating a communication plan as part of your family's elder care solutions. For example, a family caregiver might send out a weekly email telling siblings what kind of week your parent had. Also make a plan for what happens when the loved one is admitted to the hospital. Will you need to contact the prayer chain at Mom's church? Who's going to get in touch with her best friend, who lives hours away in a nursing home? Consider creating a contact group in your email account of all the people who'll need to know if your parent becomes sick.
Talk to his or her health care professional.
Remember, your mom or dad's doctor can be a partner in finding the right elder care solution. If your father lives with a progressive disease, such as Alzheimer's, a medical pro can let you know what to expect as the disease moves into more advanced stages. Armed with that knowledge, you and your family will be able to make informed decisions before there's a crisis. However, if you're uncomfortable with the doctor or his or her advice, don't hesitate to get a second opinion.
You could also use a social networking site to keep family and friends appraised of changes in day to day circumstances. A Twitter account makes for very quick and easy short messages to a large group of people following your situation. You can also privatize the account so that only people who are invited can access the messages. These messages can be easily sent from a phone or lap top.
Build a network.
Caring for aging parents can be a huge responsibility-but you and your family don't need to shoulder the burden alone. Just like you'd build a professional network to support your career aspirations, you'll want to build a network of people who can help you and your family provide the best and most compassionate elder care solutions.