Friends of mine became caregivers for his parents. Several people second guessed my friends decisions at the time but the situation was complicated with many factors involved:

o Jane and Jim received a call that Jim’s Father had a stroke in Florida. Jim was the oldest, prepared to “take care” however there was friction between the three siblings so Jim and his sister backed off, and his younger brother took charge. Mom and Dad would move back up North to a small independent living home. Jane was upset that Jim had very little input about his parents care and finances and she felt he should be more involved. Suddenly Jim’s brother died. Everything changed dramatically! Jim was now in charge of his parents care and finances. Dad’s health was failing, Mom couldn’t care for him, and Mom was starting to experience more and more health issues.

o It was time for assisted Living. Being very methodical Jane and Jim sorted, packed and labeled everything that was going to be moved-Items to be delivered to the assisted living and items to their home. Jim and Jane did not sort, donate, or disperse any of the items at that time. They just stored them in their home, because you never know when they might need them.

o Jim and Jane retired earlier than they planned in order to have time to take care of the parents increasing health and financial concerns. They spent several years and hundreds of hours caring for all Jim’s parents. Jane started to resent the time and the money being spent for fear they would outlive their money and they wouldn’t enjoy their retirement. This caused tension! They took wonderful care of Jim’s folks for over 7 years before both parents died. Jane and Jim then took on the task of disposing of the items stored in their home for years. Donating to charities, selling on eBay, and giving items to family members who will take or want the items.

Could things have been done differently? Sure, but Jim and Jane did what they felt was right at the time when things were happening fast and furiously.

However, I have 3 suggestions if you find yourself in a similar situation:

o Start thinking and talking about the “what if’s” prior to receiving the call in the middle of the night. Have plans in place on what, who, and how things are to be handled. With backup plans for respite and caregiver relief shared by everyone in the family.

o When things happen and time is short you need to make things happen fast make it happened, but when things slow down make the time to go through items being stored and not used. Start paring down it is okay to start the process.

o Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it and more!

The past is sorted and distributed and life in the present continues with wonderful memories of the past. Jim and Jane have no regrets and plenty of memories.