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Caring for an Elderly Parent

Posted on 8/16/2017 by Steve Robbins

Caring for an Elderly Parent

Steve and his mother

My wife and I have been the primary care-providers for my soon to be 90 year old mom, Johanna Robbins, for the last 10 or so years. Not long after my father passed away in 2005, it became apparent she would not thrive alone in our family home of more than 50 years. So, she decided to move to Central Vermont!

For a change, I interviewed Realtors and helped get mom’s house in eastern Massachusetts ready for sale. It sold quickly and we moved her to a condominium in Berlin, Vermont for the first couple of years while we built her a small home next to ours in Moretown.

Some of the new responsibilities we undertook were more obvious than others;

Taking her to doctor’s appointments and shopping, hosting most family gatherings and arranging for typical property maintenance, all came easily.

Something that has not always come easily is asking for help!

We subsequently grew to understand that lots of help from other care-givers is critical and hired several in home providers.

The other role to embrace is that of health advocate. We have found well intentioned doctors, nurses and others do not always know mom’s chart and health history nearly as well as we do. And they are usually grateful to learn and accept our questions and concerns with appropriate patience.

Over time, a caregivers role will grow to include paying bills, but also working with family on financial and estate planning and inevitably, end of life care and decisions. Legal documents to consider include general and financial Power of Attorney, Advance Directive for Health Care, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) Release. Sure, these are not always fun topics, but if handled in advance, will provide some peace and comfort to all. Undertake as much estate and health care planning as possible before major health care emergencies arise. It's never too early to engage the services of an attorney who specializes in estate planning.

Caring for Johanna takes considerable time and energy but it is some of the most rewarding “work” I have ever done. Holding her hand and receiving her expressions of love and appreciation compare best to holding my infant son; simple, unconditional love and devotion.

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