As I became a parent and watched my children grow in unison, I watched my parents grow old. It happened so gradually and before my eyes. You do notice a few things here and there. They are little things at first that you don’t pay too much attention to them. You think the little memory lapses are just part of growing old and don’t focus on it. Too busy with all the activities of raising your children. Suddenly you have grown children leaving home, and your family member is starting to demand more of your attention.
Many of us never think that someday we will be taking care of our family members much as they did for us when we were children. I do not think most of us are ever fully prepared for that day. I believe we should start preparing the day we leave our parent’s home. It is a discussion we should talk about early, so emotions are not the dominant feelings when trying to help your family members.
I have written about taking care of your senior family members on my blog. In this article, I want to focus on helping family members take care of their bills. It had not occurred to me that in order to help, I had to get the family members’ verbal permission to all the family member that they pay money to on their bills. The companies will not speak to you unless your family member is with you and you both speak to the companies, like the gas company, etc., giving permission.
If your family member is open to this idea of pre-approval to all the companies they pay money out to monthly, call each one and get your name on the list of people approved to assist, including Social Security. Do this before their memory starts to skip a beat. Once their memory becomes questionable, it will be challenging to take care of business. There will come a point when you will need all their passwords. I keep a copy next to my computer. I keep a list of all the websites they go to so, if for whatever reason they get stuck I can go on and complete the action. For example, my mother orders her groceries to be delivered. She cannot drive any longer. On occasion, she misses a step in the ordering. I can log on to her account and see what she has done, correct the issue, and complete her order.
Another area of concern is their taxes. Set up a file for them to put all the tax documents in a place where you can find them. Help them throughout the year with the items you will need to get their taxes done.
Keep a file of people to call to fix things, build things, clean houses, etc. This will also keep you sane so you are not running over all the time taking care of everything.
Keep a file of all the doctors, their addresses, and what kind of doctor, and make sure they also have your information. Get your family member to give permission for them to talk to you about the medical information.
I would suggest that you make a phone book for your family member. This phone book would have a photo of the person, their name and then the phone number. This way when they can’t remember your name they may remember your face.
I hope some of these ideas will help you with your family member.