I recently read a book I wish I had written myself. It’s called How to Care for Aging Parents (3rd Edition) by Virginia Morris, and was published by Workman Press in its most recent update in 2014. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is stepping up to the plate to assist a parent in later life when physical frailty or dementia are the primary causes for concern. The child often “feels the earth move under her feet” (line from Carole King) when she needs to start managing these problems in an assertive way, especially if the parent is unable to understand the need for changes.
The book’s subtitle is “A One-Stop Resource for all your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues,” and it certainly is. There are chapters devoted to everything from Adapting to New Roles (as a caregiver or first responder or helper), Life at Home (fall prevention, driving, meals, bathing), The Halls of Medicine (understanding and navigating the myriad medical problems as well as hospital systems) and Living with Dementia, to the fundamentals of financial issues (Medicaid, Medicare, preventing financial exploitation and the tools for important estate planning including Wills, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills/Advance Health Directives) and finding the new Home away from Home (nursing home, assisted living, shared living).
Ms. Morris provides “survival tips” such as “Signs that your Parent Needs Help,” and guidance on how to start the difficult conversations when the parent’s physical decline is creating a new set of substantial risks which not everyone is willing to acknowledge. There are practical suggestions on dealing with siblings, with denial, and with the caregiver’s need to become comfortable with their changing relationship with the fragile parent.
The author also makes it clear that laws do vary from state to state, and relying on bits of legal information from the web are not a substitute to genuine elder law legal advice that is directed at your individual situation.
You’ll no doubt find this book to be a very practical guide to dealing with the challenges of elder care.
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