Unless you have medical training, it’s hard to be completely prepared for everything that happens when a parent needs medical attention. There are many decisions that need to be made and it can be stressful to figure out how to make the right ones by yourself. The best way to navigate the medical journey for seniors, however, is to be proactive about it. This means having potentially difficult conversations with your parent before an emergency occurs.
Because it’s not always easy to broach the subject of poor health—and yes, even death—going into the conversation with a plan will help you get through it. When it comes to providing directives and medical help for seniors, we put together some caregiver resources to help you better navigate a stressful and emotional medical experience.
Providing The Best Medical Help For Senior Loved Ones
Being a caregiver for an aging parent doesn’t come with a handbook. There are many caregiver resources available, but it can be overwhelming to research all your options when your loved one has just experienced a medical emergency; time is not often on your side when it comes to making emergency medical decisions. Here’s what you should discuss (and how to discuss it) with your parent before an emergency befalls your family:
Step One: Talk About End of Life Care
End of life care is not talked about enough, but it is vital. In an emergency, medical decisions might ultimately be made by you on behalf of your loved one and it’s important not to have to take guesses about what they want in terms of care. Perhaps they would want to implement a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order or arrange for hospice care at home. Or maybe they would not want to have pain medication administered in certain situations. It’s impossible to know what your loved one would prefer when it comes to end of life medical decisions if you never talk to them about it, and you don’t want to be in a life and death situation and have to make assumptions on their behalf.
Step Two: Have Them Choose A Medical Proxy
After you’ve discussed what kind of care your loved one would prefer in a medical emergency, they’ll have to choose a medical proxy or a health care proxy. Their proxy can legally make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so for themselves. Choosing one designated medical proxy can come in handy especially if a spouse or siblings would be joining you in the decision-making process should an emergency arise. It will help to mitigate arguments and ensure that the focus can remain on your hospitalized family member without creating additional drama.
Step Three: Loop In Other Family Members
If you serve as your loved one’s primary caregiver but have other family members that would potentially be involved in making medical decisions for them in an emergency, be sure to have that conversation with them prior to an emergency actually occurring. Ideally, your loved one can host a family meeting and explain to everyone what their wishes are and why it is important to them to follow suit. Again, this will lessen the likelihood of fights breaking out and will allow the family to come together rather than be torn apart.
Practicing Self-Care As A Caregiver
Caring for a loved one with medical issues is challenging for everyone involved. But, just like a flight attendant would tell you on an airplane, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before attending to others. Taking the time to practice self-care as a caregiver actually serves your loved one as well, since you will be able to make better decisions if you are healthy and rested.
And sometimes it’s okay to ask for a break. Respite care is an excellent alternative for caregivers who need to take some time for themselves to recharge but still need to provide medical help to seniors. There are a variety of options available to you when it comes to respite care, you simply have to take the time to research which ones in your community would best serve you and your loved one. Some rehabilitation facilities also offer respite care, which is ideal because if your loved one should ever experience a medical emergency that would require a rehab stay, they would already be familiar with the staff, giving you one less thing to worry about in an emergency.
Know When To Ask For Help
No matter how many caregiver resources you have access to, the hardest part always seems knowing when to ask for help. Medical Guardian aims to relieve the burden from caregivers by providing round-the-clock monitoring services to seniors living at home. Medical Guardian’s medical alert systems cover a wide range of needs and price points to guarantee that every caregiver can have a much-deserved break from time to time.