Monday, August 21, 2017

10 Things to Do Before Your Parents Get Sick

Photo via the talented and dear Kristen Lequire

1. Funeral Arrangements. 
This is a no-brainer but you wouldn't believe how many people don't ask this. We are somewhat creepy when it comes to this and talk about it all the time. Know the flowers they want, the specific hymns, where they want to be buried/cremated and sprinkled...etc. Specific color for church? I'm thinking of wearing Mom's favorite color, green, for hers. 

2. Play 20 questions. 
Ask them things you don't know. What is their favorite recipe? Hilarious stories from College? Best friend? Favorite drink and how in the hell did they learn to like Scotch? Stories from their travels pre kids.  If you google this there are tons of ideas. Here is one.

3. Ask them to tell stories about their grandparents or parents. 
My Grandmother Katharine Ford Braselman (Boylan) at Rockbrook Camp in the 30's. The short one. ;)

I wish I knew my Grandparents but they all died when I was a baby. We had lunch with a friend of the family a few years ago and she told me hysterical stories how my grandmother would have "Tacky Daiquiri Parties" when it would rain too much in the mountains. All her friends would come over and wear hats and drink all afternoon. And don't get me started on my grandfather. I was a third generation Rockbrook Girl following my grandmother pictured above and then my Aunt Kathleen.

4. Get a tad invasive and ask about life insurance, wills, etc.
While our parents' finances shouldn't be our business, make sure they are someone's business. Program the family's financial advisor/lawyer...etc in your phone. Or download their outlook info at work. I cannot stress the importance of an elder care lawyer if your family is dealing with an Alzheimer's or Dementia diagnosis. Ours was a lifesaver.

5. Order one of these books and have them record their voices. 
I waited too long to do this. Don't make my same mistake.

Under the Same Moon on Amazon $32.95

6. Get pictures and videos of them with your children.
I am so very thankful I invited my friend Kristen to come take pictures of my Mom with the kids while she was still able. I don't have many great videos but I do have this one below and I will cherish it forever. Amelie was barely a month and now she is almost three and can sing this along with me. I remember my parents coming home from a night out and singing this to me.

7. Find out what medications they are on and know your family medical history. 
When my Dad was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery they came to me asking for his prescription list. This was when we noticed Mom wasn't herself because she couldn't name a single one. His list is LONG and I now have this stored in my phone so I know dosage/names/etc. 

8. Ask them to send your kids postcards or letters from their travels. 
I ordered this for both grandfathers for Father's Day to send to the kids. You can buy here. One of my favorite things my In-laws do is to send our kids postcards from all of their trips. We have probably hundreds from South America, Switzerland, and New Zealand. My kids don't get to see them too often but these notes let them know they are thinking of them.

9. Have them make a plan for their jewelry. 
We didn't have a real plan for Mom's (she didn't have a lot) but I know she would have loved to hand down a few things to Charlotte and Amelie.

10. Time and Attention.
Tell them how much they mean to you. Visit them more. This picture above is from when I drove up early on Mother's Day to surprise Mom. Go to Paper Source or Baggie Goose or that awesome Ace Hardware type place in Atlanta and buy a funny card. Buy a dirty card. Send anything. Snail mail is seriously the best and always will be. Call them. Print off a bunch of pictures of your kids and send it to them. Put your phone down when you  have a meal with them. Go on Amazon right now and send your Mom something. Anything. Send a Candle. Send a book. Forward this post to her and tell her you miss her. 

Does anybody have anything to add? I would love to hear your ideas and will add as they come in. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. I work for a CCRC company that includes memory care services. Five Wishes is a document (that can be done online) that, in easy language, allows you to define how you wish to be treated if you become seriously ill. It's broken down in to 5 wishes - The Person I want to Make Care Decisions for Me, The Kind of Medical Treatment I want or Don't Want, How Comfortable I want to Be, How I want People to Treat Me, and What I Want My Loved Ones to Know.

    I believe there is a small fee (and I do not have any association to the organization).

    Hugs - Beth

  2. Love this list!! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. This is a great post Katharine. We lost my Dad to cancer a few years ago, and I wish we'd done some of these things like voice recordings. I will definitely be doing this with my mom and in laws. Thanks so much! Love to you in this difficult journey.

  4. Great list, I wish I had had the time with my mom before she had a sudden stroke and passed very quickly afterward, to ask her questions, lots of questions, about raising my 2 young children, about how to make certain recipes she always made, you know, the little things that are the very things I miss the most. When you don't know it's coming, you don't think to prepare...