Your parents are fine living independently until they are not.

Your parents may be doing ‘okay’ living independently. The situation is not as ideal as it was ten years ago, but they are managing. That is until someone falls and breaks a bone, needs surgery, has a stroke, etc., etc.

When that happens, you are left to immediately pick up the pieces. It can mean taking an emergency leave from work for a few days then having to fly back every weekend for months. You may be able to rely on neighbors or church members for a few days but not weeks. The only way to ameliorate this is to plan for every possible situation.

If you have a two parents and one is a caretaker of the other, what will you do if the caretaker is suddenly ill or incapacitated? Who will take care of the more dependent parent while the other one is in the hospital or rehab.? Once the caretaker spouse returns home, who will take care of both of them until the caretaker spouse is much healthier? Sometimes these crisis issues reveal a deeper problem and opens up that your parents are not getting by as well as you thought.

If your parent lives alone, what do you have in place if they fall while alone at home? Who is available to accompany them to the emergency room if they need to go? Who will make sure their bills are paid and household issues are taken care of if they are gone for an extended period of time?

You need to be knowledgeable about resources in advance of problems. While social workers may help a hospitalized person with home care, they will not be able to provide resources for the spouse that is not in the hospital or sort through the mail or taking out the trash. The answer may not be one business or person who does it all but rather a coordinated effort of a few organizations.

Seek out agencies in advance that can help. Ask the following questions:

How long will it take from the time you call until they can provide services? Can you fill out paper work in advance to speed up the process?

Do they have a minimum amount of time per session or per week? What can they not do, that you will need to fill in with someone else?

You should also be aware of long term care living options and possibly have toured them. If you live at least 30 minutes away from your parents, where will they go? Close to you or stay in their community? Make sure to have at least 2-3 good options because availability can vary and those facilities may not be able to fulfill your parents’ needs if they have changed.

I recently had a call from the son a potential client who didn’t quite need me yet. That was until his mother fell. The son lived across the country and his parents needed someone a few hours a day to help them get to appointments, go shopping and take the trash out. With The Extra Daughter’s flexible hours, responsible staff and caring demeanor we were the perfect fit for many of their needs. This client reminded me why I founded this company.

Having contingency plans in mind when everything is good is the best way to prevent a crisis.