For About and By Caregivers

Tips for Caregivers


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 started:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Discuss your plan with family physicians, financial advisors, clergy or any other trusted advisors who may have suggestions to make.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 seen.
  • 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.
  1. Perhaps the most important tip for the family caregiver is to take 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 for them.

Source: Genworth Financial

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