Answering the question: “What’s next?”

By Wendy Johnstone
April 16, 2015

I have a client that absolutely keeps me on my toes. And I love it!

Her favourite question is, “So now what, Wendy?”

It usually happens after she confides in me about one of challenges she faces as an adult child caring for her father.

Her most recent eldercare issue was the last conversation she had with her Dad. She told me, “We had the agonizing and awkward discussions about the “elephant in the room” – the fact that his health is failing and he needs more than she can provide. Truth be told, I’m feeling more overwhelmed and stressed because I now realize the extent of the issues.”

She often teases me by saying, “Ignorance WAS bliss until I started using your services!”

In Mary’s case, when she and her Dad put their boxing gloves down, they both admitted her Dad’s health was very much worse and that he faced both financial and housing issues. It was the first time Mary fully realized the serious nature of her Dad’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (in fact, she had to look up its meaning) and his diabetes.

Her Dad also admitted that he hadn’t done any upkeep to the family home for at least five years and was too exhausted to start now. Financially, Mary’s Dad had recently suffered a loss with a few investments that were going to help pay for his long-term care.

In Mary’s case, the “what’s next” is to take stock of what’s working and what’s not with her Dad’s situation, including:

Help determine “what’s next” with this visual aid.

Many families find it helpful to use a visual aid. Divide a piece of paper with two columns and write a list of what’s currently working in one column and a list of problems or anticipated issues in the other column.
Prioritize the challenges and problems. In Mary’s case, she and her Dad felt their first priority was to better understand his health issues and options for treatment. Close behind was to openly discuss finances as it related to future health care costs. Mary travels south for six months of the year and she and her Dad needed to talk about who was going to help while she was away and if there was money for private care and services, if needed.

Both of them were reluctant to talk about the house. So they didn’t but they will. Prioritizing the issues at hand and having a game plan gives both Mary and her dad more peace of mind and some clear direction going forward.

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“You are amazing! What I tried to do in 2 months, you did in 1 week. You’ve helped us navigate the system, made sense of Mom’s disease, and gave back her independence and control. Thank you for making such a difference in Mom’s life and giving us, her family, complete peace of mind.”

– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC

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