DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in the age group where most of my friends who are lucky enough to still have their parents are now dealing with their major health issues. That includes me. It is hard for me to keep up with everyone to make sure that they and their parents are OK. Just being a supportive friend is getting challenging. I’m worried that I may miss one of my friends who could need a hug or help handling a situation with a parent -- or even worse, a parent dies and I can’t respond fast enough. I need to create a system to keep myself calm and to stay engaged. Do you have any ideas? -- Caring for Elders
DEAR CARING FOR ELDERS: What you can do is make a list of all of your friends who have elderly parents. Put their phone numbers and email addresses with their names in an easily accessible location. Consider making the plan to contact each friend once a week to check in. Sometimes it can be a call. Other times it can be a text or an email. Let them all know that you want to be there to support them. Encourage them to reach out to you as well, so that the burden isn’t solely on you to keep the chain of communication open.
Consider creating a support group among your friends so that you talk weekly or with whatever frequency works for you. This can give all of you an outlet to talk about the changing dynamics of your parents and your relationships with them. Agree to be there for each other without judgment.