It's been a rough last six days for me. My mother is ill, and it's brought home the fact that she's getting up in years, and may start needing my help more than I had thought. Add to that fact my grandmother living here, and my mother's been taking care of her, and you can imagine that my responsibilities multiplies rather than doubled.

The thing is that sometimes we look at things like this and we're just not sure what we're up to it. I talk often about trying to be prepared for when things go wrong in the workplace, but rarely talk about being prepared for things in real life.

Real life is a bit harder at times. If it's your child, you probably already have plotted out who the important people are for them. When it's your parents, and you don't live in the same town as them, you may not even know who their physician is, let alone where the hospitals are.

And things don't end there. If you haven't taken care of many other things, suddenly you have to think about their bills, and how to get them paid. You have to think about how to get their monies into the bank if a check comes to the house instead of having direct deposit. You have to know where the important papers might be, or if there's money or checks in the house, or valuables, or anything else. In other words, pretty much everything.

I have some things to be lucky about. I'm listed on both my mother's and grandmother's checking accounts. I know where certain things are hidden. But realizing that I didn't even have an idea where the plastic cooking utensils were in the house (how many people have elderly parents who cover everything in the kitchen in plastic?), I realized that there are other things I'm just not prepared for, and don't even know I'm supposed to ask about them.

But I'm going to ask, because I now realize I need to know. And I'm not alone. Folks, you just might have to take part in a relative's health care at some point, and they may not be able to fully communicate everything to you in those times. There needs to be a fail-safe of some kind so that you can help out in any way you can.

We will probably never know it all until it's too late But we can take care of a lot of it before it gets too far. Our parents will appreciate it, as will everyone else who's dealt with them over time. And you'll feel a lot more comfortable as well.