Preparing for the Future: Planning and Decision-Making for Family CaregivingApril 7, 2023
Preparing for the Future: Planning and Decision-Making for Family Caregiving
As people age, their needs and abilities change. They may require additional care and support from their loved ones. This caregiving role is often filled by family members who have a deep connection and commitment to the senior. It is a rewarding experience, but it can also be overwhelming, stressful, and time-consuming.
It’s important families are proactive and prepare for the future to ensure they are well-equipped to handle all their responsibilities. Planning and decision-making for family caregiving will minimize stress and burnout. Take these key steps to make caregiving easier.
Start the conversation early
To be properly prepared for the future and ensure everyone is on the same page, it’s important to start the conversation about caregiving early on. It is a difficult conversation to have that you may want to put off, but it is an important one. The earlier the conversation starts, the more time you have to prepare and make decisions about what’s best for the senior you are caring for.
In this conversation, you’ll want to cover topics such as what to do if they can no longer live in their home. Does a family member step up to take care of them? Is it a shared responsibility? Do you hire a caregiver? Is there anything you can do to make the home more comfortable right now? What are your care costs? Make sure you include your loved one in the conversation right now, as they deserve a say in their life.
Understand what your parents need
No two seniors are exactly alike. Just because your grandparents benefited from one plan of care, it doesn’t mean your parents will. It’s important you take the time to really understand what it is your parents need taken care of. Is cognitive decline a concern? Or is it physical tasks that they require help with? Are there certain cultural practices that are important to them? What do they want?
Your answers to these questions will determine what type of care they receive. An assisted living facility might be better for those with more intense needs. Home care, on the other hand, is great for those who need help with the activities of daily living. Whatever your loved one’s needs are, make sure you develop a plan that fits their life.
Develop a plan
Once all these aspects are clearly laid out, you can develop a plan of action. It will naturally look different from family to family, but each plan should go over these specific considerations:
- The responsibilities each family member will have and what is expected of them
- Your set budget for caregiving expenses, including medical bills, home modifications, or any additional care support
- Any legal documents that need to be organized, such as wills, trust agreements, social security cards, and more
Establish a support system
Whether you’re the one who is going to provide care to your loved one or you are hiring a professional, it’s important that you have a network of support. Handling the affairs of your elderly loved one can be a draining, stressful experience. Take these steps to make the care process easier:
- Divide care tasks between family members. One of you could take care of the personal care tasks, while another maintains the housekeeping and errands.
- Make a list of family members and friends who are willing to help from time to time.
- Have regular meetings (monthly or less often) with all those involved in your loved one’s care to determine what tasks need to be changed.
- Find a support group, either in person or online, and attend as often as possible.
Organization is key when it comes to caregiving. Make sure that you have all the important documents in order in an easy-to-access format—be that in a filing cabinet or digitally. It’s also important to set up a system of reminders so you can keep track of medications, schedules, and appointments. Having a system in place will help ensure that nothing is missed and that you’re able to stay on top of everything.
Take care of yourself
Self-care is essential for family caregivers. Taking care of yourself will help ensure that you’re able to provide the best possible care for your loved one. Make time for yourself, whether that means taking a break, pursuing a hobby, or simply relaxing. It’s also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep.
Try to arrange time every day to partake in some self-care activities. Some days you may only be able to squeeze in 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes will be wildly beneficial.
Consider in-home care
In-home care can be a great option for seniors who require additional support and assistance. These professionals can assist with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation. They can also provide companionship and support, which is particularly beneficial for seniors who live alone. Consider hiring an in-home care provider if you’re feeling overwhelmed or if you’re not able to provide the level of care that your loved one needs.
At Home Care Powered by AUAF, we have offered seniors in the greater Chicago area the support they need to stay at home for more than 30 years. We’ve supported thousands of seniors, and we’d be happy to support your loved one too. For more information on our caregiving programs, give us a call at 773-274-9262.
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