Planning ahead is an
important part of caregiving. Discussing preferences
and researching options in advance of a caregiving
need is key to making a plan that will be
successful. If you know that a loved one will need
care sometime soon, keep a folder with notes and
documents that will help you make decisions quickly
when the time arrives. Here are some tips to get you
- Talk openly with family
members and/or your loved one to assess the
current situation. Make a list of the types of
assistance that will be needed. If possible, estimate
the number of hours per
day each type of assistance may be needed.
- Familiarize yourself
with the caregiving resources
available in your community.
Start by locating a senior center or Area Agency
on Aging that serves your neighborhood. Give
them a call, or drop by, to find out what
services they can provide.
- Think about the
long-term situation. Are care needs likely to
increase over time? Consider the different types
of care and how your loved one might move from
one to the next. For instance, it might make
sense to begin with home care and then move to
assisted living as needs increase.
- As part of your plan,
identify friends, neighbors and other relatives
who might help out. Find out what type of
support they are willing to provide, and when
they would be available.
- If home care is a part
of your plan, assess
the safety of the home
and plan ahead for modifications that may be
needed, such as a wheelchair ramp or extra
safety features in the bathroom.
- Discuss your plan with
family physicians, financial advisors, clergy or
any other trusted advisors who may have
suggestions to make.
- Research legal
documents that might be necessary for you to
implement the plan, should your loved one not be
able to make decisions on their own.
- When you implement your
plan, make sure you keep lists of the following
items and distribute them to anyone who is
participating in your loved one's care:
- Insurance documentation
that's easily accessible for those who may have
to travel with a loved one to the hospital,
doctor, dentist, or other care provider.
Insurance information is usually the first
information needed at admission in order to be
- Telephone numbers of
all who participate in the plan, including paid
caregivers, family and friends, facilities and
day care centers.
- Telephone numbers for
all medical relationships including emergency
response, doctors, dentists, therapist and
pharmacies. Also list telephone numbers for
appropriate support such as home repair,
veterinarians or food delivery services.
- Medications. Make sure
to keep this list up-to-date and redistribute,
when changes are made. Include the name of the
medication, the amount and frequency of the dose
and the name of the prescribing physician.
- Perhaps the
most important tip for the family caregiver is
care of yourself so
you can be at your best for your loved one. Ask
for help before you're at a crisis point. Ask
for help before someone thinks to offer it. Ask
for help before your own health is at risk.
Limiting the stress in your life will make your
loved one feel like less of a burden and will
maximize the enjoyment you may find in caring
Source: Genworth Financial
Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter