Do you use your lunch hour or leave work early to run errands for your parents? Spend more time tending to mom’s prescriptions than your own?

As our parents age, it’s more a matter of when, not if, they will need our help. In a recent AARP survey of Hawai‘i registered voters age 45 or older, more than one in five residents said they are currently providing care for a loved one. Four in 10 residents believe it’s likely they will do so in the future.

As Hawai‘i ages, we know that many families don’t have a plan in place to support their parents when the time comes. That’s a problem because one day you may get a call that mom or dad has slipped in the shower and has been admitted to the hospital. At that point, emotions take over. By taking some immediate steps today you can be better prepared for the future:

Start the Conversation

Many people wait until a crisis occurs before they ask their parents about their preferences, wishes for health care or the details of their finances. If you wait until a fall, accident or serious diagnosis, big decisions may be driven by inaccurate assumptions of what your parents want.

Form your Team

No one should approach the emotions and responsibilities of caregiving alone. While other family members are likely sources of support, don’t overlook friends, colleagues, clubs and faith-based organizations as resources too.

Make a Plan

Putting together a caregiving plan now will help you respond more quickly and effectively. It can also provide peace of mind. A plan helps everyone get on the same page and focus on what’s best for your parents.

Find Caregiving Resources

Look around your community for resources to help with medical needs, counseling, legal support, adult and senior services, caregiving support groups, in-home care services, veterans’ benefits, and health insurance information on Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care insurance.

It’s also important to be an advocate for yourself and the person you care for. At the Hawai‘i state legislature this year, AARP Hawaii is part of a coalition of advocates working on a measure that will allow patients to designate a family caregiver when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. The proposed CARE Act would require hospitals to give all inpatients the opportunity to have the designated caregiver instructed, before discharge, in the tasks needed to keep them safe when they go home. The bill is meant to help caregivers with training and education on medical and nursing tasks at home, and prevent costly unscheduled hospital or doctor visits.


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