Planning for the Future Care of Relatives with Mental Illness
“What is going to happen to my relative when I am no longer here?”
As parents of mentally ill relatives grow older, anxieties about the future care of a relative begin to escalate. Throughout the years, families have played many critical roles in the lives of their relatives, and they wonder who will play these roles when they can no longer do so. Just thinking about it can raise considerable anxiety. However much of this anxiety can be reduced if well designed plans are made for the disabled family member. The biggest obstacle to developing a plan is procrastination. While the task may seem daunting at first, many families have successfully completed future plans for a relative. They are rewarded by a keen sense of self satisfaction and a well-earned peace of mind. Caregivers do not have to struggle alone in their efforts to develop effective future plans for loved ones.
NAMI Maryland provides workshops for caregivers on the Future Care of Relatives with Major Mental Illness throughout Maryland. Local Affiliates of NAMI MD and agencies and facilities in the Mental Health System can request these workshops to be given in their areas. The workshop brings together experts on planning, mental health services, and law to discuss:
- How to go about the planning process
- How to access mental health services in the community
- Identifying future advocates for a relative
- Using trusts and wills as tools in planning
As parents age, siblings face new decisions about their involvement in the life of a brother or sister with mental illness. Once decisions are made, siblings may need help in managing their new roles. A workshop to help siblings, The Changing Roles of Siblings as Parents Age, is available to NAMI affiliates and local agencies through the NAMI Maryland Older Caregiver Program. Some of the workshop topics are:
- Understanding mental illness and treatments.
- Finding help for a relative in the community
- Coping with difficult behaviors
- Learning the role of trustee
The following two booklets have been produced by the Older Caregiver Program:
- Planning for the Future Care of Relatives with Major Mental Illnesses and
- The Changing Roles of Siblings as Parents Age
These booklets are available through Sunrise Publications, NAMI Prince George’s County, P.O.Box 959, Greenbelt MD 20768
Individuals from the Older Caregiver Program can be a resource to agencies and facilities in Maryland. They can give workshops or other kinds of training to older caregivers and siblings. They can help prepare staff to work with older families. The nature of these trainings can be worked out to suit the needs of people in the area. For more information call: NAMI Maryland: 410-863-0470 or
Agnes Hatfield: 301-925-7302.
This project is funded by the Mental Hygiene Administration, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and The University of Maryland Mental Health Services Training Center.