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Series offered on planning for the future

Shelby Senior Services is offering a free program to organize family planning for the final stages of life.

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

Death is one of those guarantees in life. 

But being prepared for death can be challenging, not only for the person in his or her final days, but for the loved ones that deal with the aftermath of a funeral.

Major Health Partners is teaming with Shelby Senior Services to put together a five-session program called “Prepare To Care.” The goal is to start the conversation on aging and planning for the future.

“It’s caregiver support ... trying to get ahead of a crisis,” said Ralanda Smallfelt of Shelby Senior Services. “Trying to do things before it happens. And trying to prepare people before they get older and things happen.”

All five sessions will take place at 10 a.m. on five Saturdays at the MHP Medical Center, 2451 Intelliplex Drive, in the lower level auditorium. Each session should last approximately an hour, according to Smallfelt, and there is no charge to attend.

Session one on Saturday is titled, “Starting the Conversation.” Talking with a loved one about his or her final wishes can avoid difficult decisions that will come at a later date. 

The second session on Jan. 26 is titled, “Form Your Team.” Taking care of a loved one can be a multi-person project and lead to burnout or health problems for the caregiver. This session will feature discussion on forming a larger network of friends, family and community resources to help with a loved one’s care. 

On Feb. 9, the third session is titled, “Making a Plan.” The most effective family caregiving plans are made with the person you are caring for involved in the discussion. Options in the community will be discussed.

The fourth session is Feb. 23 and titled, “Finding Support/Resources.” There are organizations in the community that can provide help when the scope of the care is beyond what you can provide. The resources of Shelby County will be discussed in this session and many agencies will be in attendance to answer questions. 

The final session is March 9 and titled, “Caring for Yourself.” It’s a delicate balance providing care while still working and managing family obligations. Vicky Harris from ER Counseling, LLC, will be the special presenter for this session.

“We want older children, those in their 30s, 40s and 50s, to start thinking about what their parents may need in the future,” said Smallfelt. “Do you know where the wills are? Do you know what your parents’ wishes are? Do you know who your parents’ doctors are? Do you know what medicines they are taking?

“These are things to start thinking about before something happens ... get some organization, which we will help bring to this.”

Coffee and donuts will be available for each session. While there is no admission charge, please register in advance by calling Smallfelt at 317-398-0127.

The “Prepare to Care” series is an AARP caregiver tool presented as a collaboration between the MHP Patient Family Advisory Council and Shelby Senior Services.