The Story of Antonio Taguba and HomeCare Giving
Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Start Planning
I wish my siblings and I were better prepared for my parents’ caregiving needs. I wish we had planned how to support my mother as she suffered from cancer and my dad with dementia in his old age.
Both of my parents needed help at home in Hawaii. My siblings and I were committed to caring for them, but we lived in different states. We traveled home every few weeks, but it caused rifts between us as we juggled finances and started resenting each other. We could have avoided the anguish and arguments had we planned ahead and paid closer attention to our parents’ ailments, medical, and financial needs.
Several of my friends’ parents are in the early stages of needing extended care. Most of them don’t have a plan to provide for their parent’s needs. Some think they can handle everything within their immediate family. A few don’t want to think their parents will need additional care because their savings and health insurance will cover it. Caregiving is a critical family matter. Below is my advice on caregiving:
1. Begin the conversation now
Start talking to your parents and other family members about finances, health care insurance, medical coverage, housing, and other personal concerns. Your parents might be reluctant to discuss these sensitive topics because they fear losing their independence or being removed from their home or don’t want to be a burden to you. Reassure them that their long term health care is not only important for them, but for the entire family. Tell your loved ones this conversation is needed because you love them.
2. Research resources
There are many caregiving resources available. If you don’t live close to your parents, research the resources available in their communities like social service agencies, advocacy groups, nursing and assisted living facilities, hospice care, fitness centers, recreation, and churches that your parents can frequent. Online resources can also be helpful in planning. AARP.org/caregiving provides information, tools and tips for caregivers. AARP's Long-term Care Calculator offers state-by-state comparisons of home health, hospice and assisted living costs.
3. Create a caregiving plan
Organize the information you’ve collected, including contact names, phone numbers, and locations, and create a routine for your parent’s caregiving with checklists. Schedule medical appointments, arrange for transportation, and synchronize other activities with caregiver’s calendar. Discuss the plan with your parents, siblings, and trusted caregivers. Adjust the plan as your parent’s physical and medical condition, financial, insurance, or other circumstances changes, and share the revised plan with everyone.
Developing a comprehensive plan is time consuming, but it will be even more difficult and complicated without one if your parents suddenly fall ill. Seriously consider the positive effects of having a family plan.
By (Ret.) Major General Tony Taguba/ AARP Ambassador