Insurance and Finance

Taking Care

By Haley Shapley 11.1.16

Growing up, your parents took care of you, so it can be a difficult transition to reverse roles and be responsible in caring for them. Whether it happens suddenly due to something like an accident or a medical diagnosis, or you slowly slip into the role over time, caregiving can be time-consuming and stressful. If you’re a first-time caregiver, here’s what you should put on your immediate to-do list:

Assess the situation

If there’s been a sudden crisis like a broken bone, your parent may not be capable of doing any of their normal day-to-day tasks, at least for a while. “There are things that we all do to live in our home: take a bath, shop for food, prepare meals, clean, change the sheets on the bed, arrange transportation, etc.,” says Kay Paggi, a professional geriatric care manager in the Dallas Fort-Worth area. “Start thinking about how to get [everyday tasks] done.”

Organize the family

It’s important to have a strong support network. Start by calling a family meeting and deciding who will be responsible for what tasks and roles. Siblings or family members who don’t live nearby can still be involved by doing things like taking over bill-paying or filing insurance claims. By using a service like Amazon Prime or Instacart, they can even have household goods and groceries delivered to the house. 

Rally the troops

Enlist help from the community at large as well. “Lean on neighbors, friends, and people from church or organizations you’ve been active in,” Paggi says. “Get people to stop by once a month and bring dinner, or once a week pick Mom up on the way to the store.” Paggi recommends using something she calls the Post-it Note strategy. Every time you think of something that needs to be done in regard to caring for your loved one, write it down on a Post-it Note. Then when someone calls and asks what they can do, grab one of the notes or invite them to choose one.

Find ways to boost quality of life

Instead of focusing on what your parents can’t do, think about what they can do. “Look for things in their lives that they used to do or used to want to do but didn’t have time for,” Paggi says. For example, if your father loved gardening but stopped once his kids were born, get him a raised gardening container that he can easily access. When Paggi’s dad could no longer fish, he stayed connected to his passion by keeping a fishing scrapbook, collecting articles, jokes, and photos.

Figure out the finances

Unfortunately, elder care isn’t inexpensive. If you’re helping a family member who isn’t able to live independently, contact your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to discuss options for health insurance and long-term care, as well as the specifics of Medicare and Medicaid

Don’t neglect your well-being

While you’re busy taking care of someone else, remember to take care of yourself, too. Joining a caregiver’s support group can be a great way to do that. “Yes, it may take an hour or an hour and a half out of your week, but by and large it’s worth it,” says Paggi, who’s been leading one in Richardson since 1989. You may learn tips from other attendees, and you’ll likely hear about some issues you may have to deal with in the future, which can help you strategize now.

From home health care aides to assisted-living facilities, the cost of living for a senior parent can be astronomical. Read our guide to senior care for tips on having the tough talk with aging parents, to common costs and helpful resources.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2016 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance