Involving the elderly person in the process of gathering information will increase their willingness to accept change and to improve their situation. Allow them to make choices whenever possible, and provide them with the information they need to make a good decision. Let them decide which issues to address first. Remind them that you are available to assist them with these important issues but that they have control over the final decision.
How to Gather Important Information and Organize Your Caregiving Tasks
Write out an itemized list of all the things you need to do, and clarify your objectives. Then, review the list one item at a time. Don’t become overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once. Remember that information gathering and organization are the first steps.
Go over the items with the elderly person and ask them questions directly. Allow time for reflection and listening. For instance, the gathering of marriage documents may evoke memories of their wedding day. This can be a good opportunity to learn about the life of the person you are caring for. Don’t get so caught up in the information-gathering process that you miss a chance to reminisce.
Never try to talk someone out of their feelings. Acknowledge any fears or anxieties an elderly person may have regarding sensitive topics such as financial issues. Don’t deny the reality of their fears or concerns; instead, allow them to express them and move on.
Skip over difficult items and return to them later. Don’t become stymied by one item. If information is unavailable or refused, move on to the next item. Begin with the easy items ? those that are obvious and not emotionally heavy.
Be willing to compromise. Perhaps you are working with your parents and they don’t feel comfortable sharing certain financial information with you. Let them choose a mediator or agent to whom they can entrust this information. You can work with the mediator if necessary.
Explain the reason for each question asked. For example, if you ask for access an elderly person’s financial accounts, explain that it is a precautionary measure in case they are unable to pay their own bills.
Explain their rights, and give them options. Many seniors fear the loss of their independence and will feel more in control if they know their rights and options. Introduce them to attorneys who can explain their legal rights and other professionals who can offer them guidance.