blog » November 14, 2017 by Nicole DeAvilla

#30Seconds In-Depth: Navigating Your Caregiver Journey – How to Plan for Aging Parents With Debbie Howard! by Nicole DeAvilla

6 years ago
#30Seconds In-Depth: Navigating Your Caregiver Journey – How to Plan for Aging Parents With Debbie Howard!

Many of you may already be considered part of the “sandwich generation,” with children still at home and growing responsibilities and concerns about your parents as they age and start to experience health issues. We were thrilled to welcome one of our newest #30Seconds contributors, Debbie Howard, as our #30Seconds Twitter chat guest this week. Debbie served as the live-in caregiver for her mom through her mom’s diagnosis and death from Stage 4 lung cancer, all while running her business in Tokyo, Japan, from her mom’s dining room table in South Carolina. Her book, “The Caregiving Journey: How to Survive and Thrive One Step at a Time,” will be available in early 2018. Debbie shared her tips on planning for aging parents, and having those sensitive and sometimes difficult conversations needed to help you get a good plan in place. 

Q: Why is it important to have a solid plan in place for the time when you might need to help your parents with their daily living needs?

With over 70 million baby boomers moving into their later years, the chances are high that you will need to step in to help your parents. Over HALF of you aged 40 plus will serve as caregivers in the near future. Even at younger ages, the percentages are increasing every year. Right now, 20 percent of all caregivers in the U.S. are aged under 40. Having a plan in place gives you options and a chance to make the situation the best it can be.

Q: But how can we plan for something we cannot imagine?

Actually, we know a lot about aging and what happens, and we can look at family history to give us more of a crystal ball. We know that there will come a day when our parents may no longer be able to take care of themselves. We know that as people age, the chances of a “trigger event” occurring increase, such as a fall that requires hip or knee surgery. Or it could be a heart attack or stroke, or even just reduced mobility from a combination of health conditions – diabetes, obesity, etc.

Q: What are the benefits of having a well thought out plan for the future needs of our parents?

Spending one hour on planning saves 10 times in execution – we know that from business, and we know that from being moms. It’s easier to modify a plan than to create a plan from scratch. Having a plan helps you avoid misunderstandings – not only with your parents, but also with your siblings, as to who does what. Having a plan gives you more flexibility and choices for when the going gets tough.

Q: What are some of the fears that we all experience when we think of having these types of conversations?

  • My parent or parents will be offended and feel as though I’m rushing things.
  • We’ve never been able to discuss this type of serious topic without getting into a big fight.
  • There’s never a good time or chance to start this conversation.
  • I don’t want to ruin the holidays!

Q: What are the key planning basics at the beginning?

If you’re starting from scratch, take stock of what you currently know in terms of important details. Things like: social security numbers, birth certificates, insurance, medical history, financial and legal obligations. Be honest with yourself. How far along are you in terms of making a serious plan for addressing your loved one’s future needs? Include end-of-life wishes, as well as assessment of their physical, mental and social condition, and daily living challenges.

Q: How about later in the planning stages. What kinds of things do we need to think about?

Make a master checklist to determine what you may still be missing, such as legal and medical powers of attorney, DNR and living will. Be sure to discuss with your siblings about “who will help” when the time comes. Identify available community resources (in-home help, support groups, meal delivery services, etc.). Don’t forget to allow time for your own self-care (me-time, adequate sleep, nourishing food, adequate exercise, enlightening moments).

Q: What are the most important things to keep in mind when we are approaching our parents to talk about their future needs?

This isn’t about YOU; it’s about listening to and understanding how your parent feels about their living circumstances going forward. It’s about how THEY see themselves moving toward their later years and end of life, and how you can help them meet their goals. This is a practical consideration of the available options so that everyone – both your parents and YOU – can achieve a good outcome. Having a good plan will give you and your parents more flexibility and choice in the long run.

Q: What are some key planning tips from your upcoming book, “The Caregiving Journey: How to Survive & Thrive One Step at a Time”?

Planning is one of the best choices you can make to help make your caregiving days brighter and more enjoyable. Even though most people don’t start until “something happens” to force them into action, that doesn’t have to be true for YOU. Making a plan is a process; it usually takes several conversations to get your planning where it needs to be. Starting sooner is better! A key component to your caregiving plan is your own plan for self-care. You can’t help others if your energy and reserves are depleted!

Q: What if my caregiving responsibilities have already started? What are some things to keep in mind?

At first, you may be asked for only a little support, for example, going to doctor visits together or running errands. As your parent ages and needs more help with daily living, you may need to consider adding paid professional help to back you up. For the long-term, you’ll want to be flexible enough to “change the plan” when and if emergencies arise.

Be sure to follow @debbiethecarer, visit TheCareGivingJourney.comlike her on Facebook and read Debbie Howard's 30Seconds tips!

Nicole DeAvilla
Debbie Howard I am so glad that you are sharing this with us. It is easy to NOT think about these topics until you are smack dab in the middle of them and its too late to plan.
Debbie Howard
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Debbie Howard
Thanks, Nicole - so true that it is easy to put these types of discussions off. Planning ahead of time helps avoid stress later!
Meredith Schneider
Debbie Howard Looking forward all you have to share with us!
Elisa Schmitz
Welcome to our #30Seconds tribe, Debbie Howard ! So excited to chat with you tonight about this important topic. Hope everyone can join us! Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead Kim Kusiciel Kelli Schulte Sheryl Gould Cheryl Leahy Chef Gigi Gaggero Pam McCormick Kristy Dominiak Correy Kustin ✈️It's Just Me✈️ Toni B TONIA L.CLARK Rachel W. Lewter Rachel Markwood Rachell Montgomery Eirene Heidelberger Holly Budde Holly Love Meredith Schneider Mercedes Samudio sherry bracy Mindy Hudon, M.S., CCC-SLP Jan Mostrom Jeanette Gibson Jennifer Young Jeannine Jeannie Greener Jennifer Pereyra Stacey Freeland Stacey Roberts Stacie Ast-Kutzbach Kathy Ast-Kutzbach Kathy Shimmield Amanda Heyser Amanda Ashlee Benest ☀️Stephanie☀️ lorri langmaid Lorri Langmaid Lori Leal Lauren Harris-Pincus Tiffany C Tiffany Anne Adeline Benovil Adeline Benovil Tamara O'Shaughnessy Dr. Shayna Mancuso Sharon PingPing sonlight00 Sandy VanBuskirk Sandy Greiner, PMA-CPT Susan Campbell Cross Susan Kay Wyatt Hustle N Glow Gail Gedan Spencer Gail Harris Margaret Steck Margaret McSweeney Margie Analise Anna Corona Mei Marcie Kat McQuaid Andrea Hinckley Andrea Trank Amber Chandler Amber Cheras Alex Bryant Beth Engelman Beth Aldrich, CHC, AADP, CNT Carrie Beth Carrie Hix Eddy joell51868 melinda Raquel Masco Angie Mozilo Kimberly Johnson Kimberly @flipflop_mommy Kathline Arce Cheyenne&HuntersMama Mommaofboys33 Kim Kleeman Mary Kleberg Jennifer Kloch-Davis Maria Koshechkina Marianne Clyde Jennifer Essad 4WEALTHFG Ann Poyer Christie Gosch Dr. Christina Hibbert jennah jackson Jenna Lee Candace Curtis Candace Reid Mitchell Barney vidya P astronaut~momma Mary Hennessee Dolores Hall Kristin Vanier Knauf ☀️Stephanie☀️ Sass Tucker Veronica Vasquez Veronica Bartles kymi Psalm46life sara smith sara Eve 🐉 MOMonaMission 🐞 Amber Cockerill Stacey Curry KatyMay erin dear Joy Person ❥ Chrissy ❥ Jessica Leigh Perez Holly Guski Keri Wilmot diane conover Maryanne Arielle Levitan 😍Dezi_cakes99💚 Karen Mazzoni Cricklesheart Vanessa Veronica Vasquez Gina Valley Dr. Monisha Vasa Kristi Michaels-Dauria Mandy Tiffany lorene d Dawn Lantero Dawn W. Dr. Tim Thayne Susan T Felicia Stoler Phylicia Daven Lee Wendi Wendy Rafferty Christian Marie Nicole Thomas Stellaaaaa DiligentSavings Lemi-Ola Erinkitola Tina Haupert Tina Pietila @missy MyssiHughes Yadira Castañeda ✌️ Joani Plenty chrissy sexton IamstayAtHomeMom Niara Victor Aragon Martina Beth DiMauro 💙Be Happy💙 Nicole DeAvilla Donna John Brandi Donahue Heather Travitz therapistmom Erica Hornthal Erika Erica Kane Teacher Karen Sarah Aadland
Ann Marie Patitucci
What an important topic! I know so many friends who could use this right now! Katie Sloan
Debbie Howard
Let's all get ready together!
Rachel W. Lewter
While I'm not in the "sandwich" age bracket, I waited to have a child at 31. I have experience helping out and sitting with a terminally ill friend, until her passing. I learned so much from my friend about how to care, and how to let it be on occasion. I visit my parents fairly often and do all the things I know they just can't do. It's been an uphill battle trying to have the discussions that need to be had. They guided my grandparents in their elder years in to protect their assets. I'm at a loss on how to move forward from here.
Debbie Howard
My heart goes out to you, Rachel - I hope you will find some good ideas in tonight's chat!
Raquel Masco
Wow. This has been in my mind a lot lately.

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