If you’re the primary caregiver for your elderly parent, you’re not alone. According to Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 study, 34.2 million adults have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the past 12 months.
Caregiving is hard … and even harder when you’re still working. Communication with other family members and friends is key to save your sanity as the primary caregiver.
With technology, communication can be easier. Here are three ideas to improve communication with family and friends.
1- Create a private Facebook group for caring for your elderly parent.
For example, name the group “Taking Care of Mom.” Make sure in the setup you make it a closed group or secret group. A closed group can be found publicly by anyone but posts are private. A secret group cannot be found publicly. Click here to read more about group privacy settings.
Invite family members, neighbors, and anyone who has offered to help take care of your elderly parent. For someone to participate in the group, they need to have a Facebook account.
Use this group to post updates and request help. For example, you have a client meeting which cannot be rescheduled and you can no longer take your mom to her doctor’s appointment. Post to the group a help request.
Since most people have a Facebook account, it’s an easy way to send a message to multiple people instead of calling each person.
2- Use Dropbox to store documents regarding your elderly parent.
In this way, you can give access to specific folders or files for select individuals. For example, if someone is helping by taking your elderly parent to the doctor, you can give them access to healthcare information.
Create a Dropbox account by going to https://www.dropbox.com/. Once created, you can share specific files, folders, or the entire account with other individuals. Sharing rights can always be revoked.
You will need an email address for each person you want to invite. Others do not need a Dropbox account to access files.
Create several folders in the account to include healthcare, financial, and legal information.
In the healthcare folder include contact list of physicians, list of allergies, list of prescriptions, medical insurance documents, dental insurance documents, vision insurance documents, long-term care insurance documents, HIPAA authorization form, healthcare directives, and any other documents relating to your elderly parent’s health. Access to this folder or specific files should be given to anyone who will be responsible for your parent’s health.
In the financial folder include a list of household expenses, list of accounts, list of income sources (pension, investments, Social Security benefits), financial power of attorney document, mortgage documents, and any other information relating to your elderly parent’s finances. Access to this folder or specific files should be limited and on a as need basis.
In the legal folder include all estate planning documents and any other legal documents relating to your elderly parent. Some legal documents were included in the other two folders but you can also keep a copy in this folder if you want (e.g., HIPAA authorization, healthcare directives, financial power of attorney). By having the estate planning documents in one place, it makes it easier to find when needed.
3- Install home cameras.
Either purchase a do-it yourself kit or hire a security company to install cameras. With many systems, you’ll have an app to view each camera.
It’s an easy way to check and see how your elderly parent is doing around the house. You can give access to the app to anyone you allow access to your elderly parent’s home.
When you’re the primary caregiver, don’t go it alone. Use technology to communicate with family and friends who want to help (or need convincing their help is needed). There may be a learning curve but once everything is set-up, it’ll be an easy way to communicate with multiple people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy, and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature, and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”