Wow, so the storms I anticipated last week were much, much worse than I could have imagined. The good news is that I’m still standing (barely). I’m exhausted, frustrated, and questioning a lot of things. This is what I learned in a very short amount of time and hope others can benefit from knowing about as well:
1. If you have elderly parents, get legal paperwork taken care of NOW. Please don’t wait for an emergency to try to file necessary documents. If you reside in the United States especially, research and process as many forms as you can (e.g., different kinds of power of attorney, insurance, prescriptions, list of doctors, medical history, ID stuff like social security numbers and passport information, etc.) and make photocopies. Store said photocopies in more than one location.
2. Learn the foreign language and jargon of the medical community depending on your parents’ health conditions. For example, I am learning how to pronounce and remember various terms related to hypertension and muscle matters.
3. Get a second or third or even fourth medical opinion if necessary.
4. Document, document, document. Thankfully I was keeping track of different things in an Excel spreadsheet, so whenever some official couldn’t or wouldn’t remember, tried to deny something, or attempted to give wrong information, I had my notes handy to argue.
5. Sweet talk as needed. Be careful about choosing which battles you take on and when. Sometimes you have to use the “carrot” and sometimes you have to use the “stick” (of assertiveness), so to speak.
6. Be you. My best friend assured me that it is okay to feel whatever I’m feeling and act however I act because I need to be me if I’m going to make it.
7. It really does take a village. Don’t be shy about asking friends, colleagues, and strangers for help. This was very hard for me to do, but I seriously would not have survived last week had it not been for their kindnesses and assistance.
8. Focus on dignity. The elderly deserve to be treated with respect; do what you can – no matter how small – to try to provide, restore, or maintain dignity.
9. Relish in small victories. My mom stood up from her wheelchair to a walker for 10 seconds. We’ll take it!
10. Keep the faith. Most hours that’s all that can really be done, and that’s alright.