Are you able to have a frank talk with your parent or parents? Even if Alzheimer’s isn’t a consideration, there are several important details you and your family should be aware of and have in place.
The primary need is an Advanced health care directive. Personally I think everyone should set one up at any age, but especially aging parents. Each state website will likely have a form you can complete that will ask you the right questions.
It should include your wishes for your health care, such life support wishes, etc. Be sure to have a DNR (do not resuscitate) form as well that specifies whether or not you want to be resuscitated. Again each state has its own requirements, but once completed and notarized if necessary, a copy should be filed with your physician’s office, your local or likely hospital, and of course, those named to speak in their behalf.
It should also include a durable power of attorney, naming those who can make decisions for you should you become incapacitated. Commonly the spouse is named first, but there should be an alternate. In our family when Dad set theirs up, he named all of his children. Another relative or a close friend could also be named.
Do discuss with your legal representative or your physician. These are only my suggestions. They will have the details and requirements for your state. It is suggested that you have a copy of the AHCD on file with your physician and the local hospital, in case it is needed. We’ve had the most use for the durable power of attorney.
If you are contacting anyone if your parent’s behalf, doctor, insurance company, medicare, social services, a bank, they legally need permission to discuss your parent with you. If your parent is present and able to talk, they can give it verbally, but that won’t often be the case. We have found we are often trying to resolve VA and insurance issues at home. I’m not sure Mom would be able to understand or answer their questions anyway at this point.
Remember this can be changed at any time, and should in fact be reviewed every few years in case of changes. It will be of immense help for all concerned to have it set up ahead of time while your loved one is able to make their own choices.
Another topic is how and where they should be cared for as necessary. If and when your parents are unable to live on their own, try to discuss their expectations. Our parents had always said they did not want to live with any of their children. They didn’t want to be a burden. We didn’t realize at the time how much that would help us when the time came. If you talk to them about it now, it may be an opportunity to consider assisted living when necessary.
Lastly, let your parent or spouse tell you their preferences for when they die. Any burial or funeral arrangements they prefer. You might find they have definite choices that they’ve already decided.