Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Your Parent's Contact List

Caregiving often means that you must rely on people who live closer to your parent to support him and to let you know how he’s doing. Neighbors, family, friends, professionals, ministers, work colleagues--all of these people may have a role in your parent's life and can help you check on his status and be a useful source of information as you walk the caregiving journey.

If all your family members live out-of-town or if you are an only child, the list of contacts becomes a vital source of support and help that will permit you to make informed decisions about your parent's care and to mobilize help when you cannot be there physically. Creating a care team (which we'll talk about in a later post), of which some of these contacts may be a large part, is good caregiving.

People who should be in your parent's Contact List:
• Family attorney
• Minister where your parent attends church, or spiritual partner
• Family accountant and/or financial planner
• Family physician
• Neighbors
• Your parent’s supervisor, if he still works outside the home
• Friends
• Family
• Landlord or Apartment Manager, if he rents
. Local Police

A note about the police. Find out how the local police handle situations when phone calls to homes go unanswered. If your parent doesn't answer the phone when you expect her to, can the police intervene and how will they?

If your parent does fall ill and you assume a more active caregiver role, this list may expand to include:
• All physicians treating or consulting on your parent's case
• Contacts in their living facility
• Local organizations providing services to your parent
• ElderCare Referral Agencies
• The Eldercare Locator service
• Real estate agent
• Social workers
• Hospital nurses
• Geriatric Case Manager
• Funeral Home Director

Look for a Holiday Card List or Address Book
If your parent has an address book or a holiday card list, now is a good time to find out where he keeps it and perhaps look it over for other ideas of contacts. If your parent becomes too ill to keep in touch with his friends, you can write a letter to the people in the card list or address book to let them know the situation and encourage them to write or call.

When thinking of whom to add to your list, consider...
Whom does my parent trust and turn to in times of trouble?
Who has a key to my parent's house?
Who looks in on my parent regularly?
Whom does my parent consider a confidant and friend?
Who helps with my parent’s finances and legal questions?

Important Tips
•Collect these names while your parent is still well. Meet as many as you can. Establish your own relationship with them. Discover from whom you might be able to ask for help. With this information, you'll feel more comfortable asking if a crisis occurs.
•Keep the list of contacts where you can easily find it. Either a section of your daily planner or a separate notebook works fine.
•The list must be portable; as part of your parent’s care team, you must be able to carry it with you.
•If you are using a palm pilot, cell phone and/or e-mail, be sure to have a back-up list electronically or in paper. I have heard horror stories of caregivers scrambling because their cell phone was damaged or stolen and all their contact numbers were lost.
•Don’t forget to note mailing addresses, cellular, work and home phone numbers and e-mail addresses for all contacts when they are available.

Your parent's contact list works alongside your parent's Care Log. Having this list goes a long way to reminding you that you are not alone. There are other people in your parent's life who care and will be able to help. Having this list provides you with more resources to call upon for support and information so that you can care more effectively.

Blessings on your caregiving day!

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