I received that phone call, “Dad’s in the hospital, and he can’t go home.” NOW WHAT?

An elderly father and his daughter sitting at a table

And so, the journey began. We rushed to make airplane reservations, thankful we had some extra cash and room on our credit cards. My sister and I flew to Florida, from Colorado, & Minnesota to see Dad, and help him with housing and rehab arrangements. We had to help because he had to heal.

After a direct cab ride from the airport to the hospital, it was a relief to finally be with him. It was also heart wrenching to see my dad, frail and fragile, and needing help. However, thankfully, he was going to be ok.

My sister and I were thinking the same thing. Are we really at this stage in life? How did we get here already? It happened so fast! My siblings and I were inducted into the “Sandwich Generation” without being asked, with no preparation and without even seeing it coming!

We spoke with the “case worker” at the hospital who gave us a list of places that my take my dad for rehab. She offered that she could call around and see which place had availability to take him. (Luckily, my dad was able and willing to give permission to the hospital to speak with us!) My sister and I did not want to send my dad to a place sight unseen, so we took to the road and began visiting a few places. What were we looking for? A nice clean, and hopefully compassionate, place for our dad to recover.

What did we encounter? Large communities, (never use the word “institutions”), small ones, some that had room to take him,, some with no vacancies, some that smelled like urine, some that had the halls filled with elderly people sitting in wheelchairs in the hallways, some with pretty courtyards, some with friendly staff….how , do you choose and in such a short time?

After an exhausting eight plus hours and a half dozen rehab communities later, my sister and I took a break. We reviewed our notes and opinions. We eliminated some communities immediately, and then narrowed our choices. Luckily, we came to an agreement on which community we thought would be best for Dad. (All I can tell you is that I was pleasantly surprised that we came to the same conclusion. Had we not, let’s just say, we have had our disagreements over the years and neither of us like to back down.)

Back at the hospital we discussed the community with Dad and had the staff “write the order” to transfer Dad to the new community. We updated our other siblings and checked in with our families back home. We were exhausted, emotionally and physically.

As adult children, are we prepared? I know we certainly were not. We didn’t even know what questions to ask. We were so wrapped up into our own lives, we had no clue. Here are a few tips for you.


  • Legal Documents – seek legal advice
    • Power of Attorney
      • Who should have it
      • For what actions
      • Medical releases
      • Finances
      • Real Estate
      • Other
    • Health Care Directive aka Living Will
      • Discussion before
      • Review at time of illness
      • Clarity
    • Last Will and Testament
      • Where is it physically located?
      • Who is Trustee
      • Who is Executor
      • Understand state laws, rules & procedures, they vary
  • The Plan – make one while everyone is healthy! Involve your parents
    • Parent wishes, needs, wants, fears
    • Who is to be involved?
      • Spouses, ex-spouses
      • Parents’ Siblings
      • Children, step-children
      • Nieces, nephews
      • Cousins
      • Grandchildren
      • Church members
      • Friends
      • Neighbors
    • Parents & Family Members Visit Communities
      • Meet the staff
      • See the layout
      • Taste the food
      • Check out location
      • Learn about the amenities
      • Talk with residents when you visit
    • Pre- assign duties for each family member if/when an emergency arises
      • Communication
        • Shared documents
        • Group texts
        • Conference calls
        • Social Media
        • Who calls who when there is an emergency?
      • Who goes to the hospital first?
      • Who takes care of the spouse of the ill parent?
      • Who takes care of the pets and the house?
      • Who takes care of paying their bills?
      • Discuss with YOUR own family what to expect beforehand
      • Who notifies their businesses or employers?
  • Establish Emergency Funds for both you and your parents
    • Travel expenses
    • Loss of wages, salary, bonuses & commissions
    • Meals outside the home
    • Sundries
    • Legal expenses

That’s plenty to get you started.

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