Caregiving 911: How Planning Helps When the Train Wreck Occurs

Kathy Eynon, Parent Care AllianceAt any given time there are 65.7 million people caring for an aging parent, relative or loved one in the U.S.  78% of caregivers report that they want more help or information but don’t know where to turn.  I know that I was never a genius in math, but by my calculations that comes to over 50 million caregivers that would welcome more help! 

Caregivers struggle for a variety of reasons.  From issues like denial, to acting like the Lone Ranger, the stress can be very real and very overwhelming and caregiver burnout is a sad reality for many.

With the technologies of the day, we all have information at our fingertips.  Whether you use Google, Bing or some other search engine, you can search and access a great deal of that information from the comfort of your home.  And there are countless books with great information presented in them that serve as wonderful reference guides. 

But, the biggest issue that I encounter in my work with clients is that few folks actually take the time to utilize those resources to plan for the coming challenges.  It is very often not until they are in the midst of a crisis that caregivers start to scramble for the resources that they need.

If I could communicate just one brilliant idea in this post, it would be this:  Don’t wait for the train wreck to happen before you think about what you will do when the train wrecks!  First responders in emergency situations train over and over again so that they know exactly what to do when the crisis occurs.  If you do your ‘training’ before your crisis, you have more control over the outcomes.  You relinquish your right to options when you fail to plan ahead.

And since 70% of folks who reach the age of 65 will require some form of care assistance in the future, pretending that it won’t happen is much like being an ostrich with your head in the sand!

Helping your parents plan can be a challenge and they may resist your offers of assistance.  But even when they will not let you intervene, your hands are not totally tied.  You can still plan for things like:  what will happen if Mom falls and has to go to a facility; what if you have to sell Dad’s house to pay for care; who would you call if home care is needed?  You can still create your ‘go to’ plan so that you are ready to roll when the train wreck happens.

And if you are aging and trying to plan for your own future, there are lots of ways to make things easier on your future caregivers:  Get legal documents prepared; communicate your wishes regarding end-of-life care; let your family know where they can find all of the information that they might need in the event that you can no longer act on your own behalf.  Don’t leave them wondering!

Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”  Caring for aging loved ones is something at which we should not fail!  Don’t just gather information:  Act on it.  Find the help and resources you need to create a good plan so that you know what to do when called on as a first responder to your family crisis.

On the journey with you…….Kathy

Kathy Eynon is an Eldercare Coach and Consultant who works with those struggling to cope with the demands of caring for an aging parent.  She can be reached by email at:


4 responses to “Caregiving 911: How Planning Helps When the Train Wreck Occurs

  1. Great post, Kathy. I think some see ‘planning’ as almost being akin to ‘making the worst happen’ but from experience with caring for my late parents, I know exactly how important planning is and it certainly doesn’t cause the worst ~ rather takes the super- worst out of what could otherwise be a desperately difficult situation.

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