Please enjoy this series showing the challenges facing caregivers at different stages in the caregiving process. The full credits for this article are at the bottom, thanks.
Stage 1: The Expectant Caregiver
In the near future, I may help an aging relative.
Who are you?
You anticipate that in the near future, your aging relative will need more of your assistance and time. You’re concerned because of your relative’s age, past and present medical condition, and current living condition.
Your keyword: Ask
Ask questions of your care recipient, health care professionals, lawyers and financial planners and your family members who may be involved in the caregiving role.
You expect to become a caregiver; this is your time to prepare. You should research options, gather information, and provide the opportunity for your care recipient to share his or her feelings and values. This is also your time to concentrate on taking care of yourself-keeping up with family and friends, enjoying your hobbies and interests, pursing your career goals, taking trips you’ve always dreamed of.
You can take some proactive steps now that will make your future caregiving days easier. As an “expectant caregiver”, what can you do?
1. Consult with a good lawyer familiar with eldercare issues.
Find out about durable powers of attorney for health care and living wills; start the process to ensure that the necessary legal papers are in order.
2. Determine financial situations.
Knowing the financial status can help determine future health care choices. Determine monthly income from pensions and social security; learn about annuities, stock investments and bank accounts.
3. Investigate community health care options.
What home health care agencies in your area offer quality, affordable home care? What housing options are available: retirement communities, assisted living centers? Contact community organizations to request brochures and pamphlets.
4. Begin discussions with your aging relative about his or her wishes.
Asking questions now about your relative’s care preferences will help you provide the care your relative wants. Where does your relative want to die? At home? At a care facility? What type of funeral would your relative want? Whom does your relative wish to provide their care?
5. Determine the current health care providers.
Who are the physicians, what is the diagnosis? In addition, learn about medications and why the medications have been prescribed.
6. Concentrate on the reality of the situations.
Keep a realistic view of their situations: What’s the best and worst that could happen? Then, determine what options are available for each of these outcomes.
7. Organize forms and documents that you’ll need in the future.
You can find free forms to download to help you get started here: SeniorClix.org.
Excerpted from www.caregiving.com: The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey, a handbook for family caregivers by Denise M. Brown.