the art of caring for your aging loved one

Getting Organized

Firm but Friendly

More often than not, you will be dealing with a person who is slightly less than cooperative, even downright difficult.

You may need to assume the role of the one in charge, particularly in the areas of concern such as medical, finances, legal, and driving.

Always remember:

  • He or she is still a person.
  • There may be reasons for the undesirable behaviours.
  • He or she may be unhappy, unhealthy, unhelpful ... all three?


Create a System

A system is what you need to make your life easier. With it in place, you will never need to panic as you prepare for an appointment or an interview. You must...

  • know what $$$ is coming in and from what sources, and
  • know what $$$ is going out and where it must go.

The bills will keep arriving and they must be paid regularly.

You need to gather information. You need financial records, legal documents, personal papers, medical information. Ask to see them.

Begin the Search

Some people become so overly concerned about the safety of certain pieces of paper that they may hide them in unlikely places. Has Gramps forgotten where he put some of those vital papers?

Tactic: Ask for help and explain your mission. Ask a trustworthy family member, neighbour, or friend to visit for coffee or tea with Gramps in the living room. Or have someone take him for a drive.

Put aside your feelings of guilt and get on with it. Quickly.

Find the cigar boxes that serve as the filing system, or the stash of envelopes and riff-raff in the kitchen drawer, or the shelves in the closets. Check the underwear drawer. Get a feel for the general order of things.

You must know all of the pieces of the pie. Make a note of the date, time, and name of the person who was with Gramps and put it in the calendar section of The File. You have a witness.

Remember ... you are responding to a call for help.

Eventually, you must gather the papers in one safe place. It's as easy as The File.

A Ponderable

Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied,
That "maybe it couldn't," but he'd be the one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done.
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you:
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Then take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing, as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

- Edgar Guest