Bette Davis was exactly right; getting old isn’t for sissies. In addition, helping out your senior family members can lead to sibling rivalries and other communication challenges coming to the forefront. To take the burden off of everyone concerned and reduce stress, put some tools in place now to prevent loved ones from having to make unwanted decisions during an emergency.

Care Arrangements

Bring in help early. Before your family member takes a tumble with a laundry basket, hire in-home help to reduce their risk. If your loved one is reluctant to ask for help, you may need to couch it in new terms. CaringPeopleInc recommends that if you know of a student or young person who needs work, hiring them to do light housework five hours a week could both support a hard-working student and reduce the risk of your loved one suffering an injury. If your loved one needs more care, take tours of long-term care facilities to make sure that your family member will enjoy both good care and privacy.

A Healthcare Proxy

According to Jacoby and Meyers, a healthcare proxy can remove the burden from family members when it comes time to make end-of-life decisions. If your loved one wants a Do Not Resuscitate, or DNR, order in their medical instructions, a healthcare proxy can provide them that assurance. Many family members understand this decision when their loved one is healthy, but when standing at the side of a hospital bed, this decision becomes much more challenging. A healthcare proxy will let the designated individual know what decisions the elderly patient wishes to be carried out.

Living Will

There are limitations to living wills that can be addressed by having a conversation with your health care proxy. According to PolicyGenius, many living wills are not worded clearly and can lead to confusion during times of crisis. However, by discussing scenarios with the healthcare proxy, they can plan to address your loved one’s current health situation with the physician and share those wishes directly, reducing the burden on family members to state their understanding of the desires of your loved one.

It’s critical that your loved one knows that their end of life wishes will be respected and carried out. Having a third party who can disengage from an emotionally challenging situation and state those wishes can save caregivers, friends and family some tough decisions. The healthcare proxy is there to represent someone who can no longer speak for themselves. Relying on this person can preserve relationships while respecting the wishes of your elderly loved one.

For more great content, read this related article: 3 Strategies to Make Your Aging Parents Comfortable Living in Your Home