Respect Your Parents' Wishes
Throughout this process, it's important to respect your
parents' wishes and their desire to live independently
as long as possible. "Whenever your relatives are
cognitively 'with it,' they should be brought into any
decision-making process," Lieberman says. "They should
be able to express where they want to go."
Talk About Finances
Talk with parents about finances. Find out if they have
savings accounts, medical insurance, or supplemental
insurance that covers expenses not provided for under
Medicare. Ask your parents about an updated will to
avoid estate problems after their death.
Ask an attorney to draw up a durable power of attorney
for finances, which allows a designated person to make
legally binding decisions should parents become
incapacitated. Also talk to your attorney about an
advanced directive, sometimes called a living will. The
document defines your parents' wishes regarding medical
care and names someone to make care decisions should
they become unable to do so.
Conduct a Home Safety Evaluation
If you're caring for aging parents at home, Schempp
recommends having either a physical therapist or
occupational therapist come to the home and evaluate it.
Simple but effective measures include installing
bathroom grab bars, putting higher-watt light bulbs in
light fixtures to brighten rooms, and using double-sided
tape to anchor area rugs.
You can also replace doorknobs with levers that are
easier to open. And you may need to add railings and a
ramp at the front entrance and widen doors so a
wheelchair or walker can pass through. In the bathroom
and kitchen, install faucets with levers so there's no
knob to twist. You can also convert a room on the first
floor into a bedroom.
Before deciding whether to place an aging relative in a
nursing home or other facility, ask a lot of questions,
Lieberman advises. A useful source of information on
nursing facilities is the state-by-state quality
assessment survey of nursing homes published by the
federal Health Care Finance Administration. Every
certified nursing facility is required to post its
survey results. "Unfortunately, our research shows that
sometimes nursing homes try to hide the survey results
or otherwise make them not available," Lieberman says.
"Look for it, read it, and ask questions; it can tell
you a lot about a facility."
Consider Nonprofessional Help
Volunteers can meet many of the needs of elderly people.
They can visit, prepare meals, clean, do yard work, or
five rides to medical appointments or to the local
supermarket. Church groups or other community service
organizations, such as Meals on Wheels, are often a good
source of volunteer assistance.
Take Care of Yourself
Caring for aging parents can be both a difficult
challenge and a rewarding experience, strengthening
family bonds. But it's stressful. Emotions such as
anger, guilt, grief and anxiety are normal. Don't forget
to also take care of yourself. "Caregivers often let
their own health deteriorate or their stress level
becomes high," Lieberman advises. "When it's
appropriate, ask for help or accept help when it's
offered by friends or people in the church or community.
Or hire help."
Personal Story: by Sandy Schultz
I can relate to the previous article in many
ways. My parents have lived it, with a full
plate for years. It hasn't been easy. I
admire and respect my parents for all the
dedication and sacrifice they have given to
my grandparents. Allow me to introduce some
of the dearest people to me:
Since December,1995, my mom (Penny) and
dad’s (Bob) lives have not been their own.
That is when Rose Scheibe (my grandmother,
mom's side) was diagnosed with liver cancer.
My parents expressed their tangible love
for her every step of the way. It was an 11
month battle for her life. Here are some
went to the hospital with her when she
needed the radiation/chemo treatment
they took her to her regular doctor
they were with her when we lost her to the
dreaded deadly disease
In 1999 Monroe Sellers (my grandfather,
dad's side) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
disease. Here were some of the ways my
parents expressed their tangible love for
him when he could no longer drive:
to their regular doctor appointments
my grandfather every time he was in the
they were there when he passed away in
It was about the time period that we lost my
grandfather, that my mom started having back
problems. This has added to the challenge.
My mom is bedridden most days with chronic
back pain. In spite of the pain and agony,
she is still there along with my dad, (as
much as she possible can) to do as much as
she can to take care of my last surviving
grandparent, Margaret Sellars.
I’m sure many other people are experiencing
a similar story. This can be a very lonely
journey. Where can people turn to find out
the necessary help? Below are some websites
and some more information.
-- by Sandy Schultz
For More Information
Caring for Your Aging Parents: When Love Is Not Enough
This book delves into major issues
that will assist you in caring for your elderly
parents. It helps you to understand “The Spiritual
benefits of care giving” and “The Crucible of Caring”.
This book explains what the
benefits are that God intends to bring to you in the
care giving experience. Including cultivating a closer
relationship with God, to bring about a more mature
faith, which is purified by testing, the ability to face
and deal with your negative emotions, such as anger,
resentment, guilt, fear, anxiety, etc. instead of
running from them, and Healing your past hurts (and even
the healing of the entire family). This book will also
help you to discover who really controls your life and
will help you to discover if you can really trust God to
help you through the difficult times.
God have control may be a tremendous struggle, But it’s
worth the effort, because if you are controlled by
anybody or anything other than God, you will be
miserable. He may, even now, be using your distress to
draw you to Him.”
great resource books are:
Caring for Aging Parents (by Richard P. Johnson) -
This practical handbook provides support for caregivers.
Factual information helps you deal with the strain of
caring for an elder parent and shows you how to find
needed information and support. Care giving issues are
addressed in the light of God's command to honor your
father and mother.
Caregivers Survival Guide: How to Stay Healthy When Your
Loved One Is Sick (by Kay Marshall Strom) - you will
be encouraged by the stories the author tells from her
own life and from the lives of others. You will find
out how to find spiritual support, maintain balanced
relationships, work out finances and understand the
impact on the whole family.
Changing Places: A Christian's Guide to Caring for Aging
Benson Roberson - This book includes
resources for: organizing the care-giving process;
selecting an appropriate housing option; untangling
legal and financial issues; coping with the emotional
challenges; finding help in the community; and nurturing
your spiritual walk in the midst of difficult times. It
includes forms, checklists, and how-to's for caring for
your loved ones.
resources for Caregivers:
Maryland, Department of Aging (410) 767-1100 -
Medicaid Waiver for
older adults –
Maryland Nursing Home
Local Departments of
Social Services (for Medicaid eligibility) -