Survival Tips: Senior Care Decisions and Stepfamilies

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 13 September 2012

Senior care decisions are rarely black and white. Few families sit down to discuss what to do after Mom’s debilitating stroke, or how to approach Dad’s dementia, and say, “Let’s go with home care for now, and in a few months, we’ll consider assisted living if home care doesn’t work out.” There are grey areas when it comes to what kind of care is most appropriate, how much it will cost, how it will be covered, and whether Mom, Dad and the rest of the family will support the decision, among other things.

Things can get even more complicated when a stepparent is involved. Consider this scenario: your father recently passed away. His wife, your stepmother, is now living on her own. She was quite dependent on your father. Since her only daughter lives far away and cannot be present for doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping trips, or coordinating needed home repairs, the burden falls on you. If the relationship is strained, these demands are not easily met. How can you be a caregiver for someone who is not truly your relative?

Consider these tips:

  1. Get an elder care mediator to help make decisions.
  2. Ask long-distance family members to get more involved, even from afar.
  3. Limit the time you spend with this person; set clear boundaries as to when you are available to help.
  4. Join a support group, or encourage your stepparent to do so.



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