Caregivers and your loved ones

Follow these five steps to help create a caregiving plan for your family.

Talking to our aging loved ones about the future can be difficult. We do not want to make a bad situation worse so we have a tendency to tip-toe around the topic. Unfortunately, those we try to protect from being hurt are the ones that will end up suffering the most. As hard as it is to talk about these events in a loved one’s life, it is much harder when you are not prepared. 

Family caregiving responsibilities take a toll on a family: not only financially but also in the quality of care. Therefore, a caregiving plan is essential. People in the United States are living longer and as our nation grows older the need for caregiving will be as common as the need for child care.

Families must start the conversation of what matters to their loved ones and create a plan that meets the needs of the one they will care for. Michigan State University Extension recommends the following five steps to help create a caregiving plan for your family:

  1. Prepare to talk: No adult child wants to talk to their parents about taking care of them and no parent wants to admit that they may need help someday. Talk about the emotional support but also the financial support. How much time and money can your family afford? 
  2. Form your team: You can’t create an effective family caregiving plan without the input of your family members. Everyone needs a say in the process. Always consider the care recipient’s wishes and priorities when forming your caregiving team. Remember, your team is taking care of your loved ones, not the other way around.
  3. Assess needs: Figure out what your loved one’s needs and priorities are. Once you are aware of this, then you can determine the kind of information and which resources will help the most. Seek out local and national resources for support of caregivers. The AAA,AARP,  the local Commission on Aging, and the National Institute on Aging are all good resources to begin with. They have a wealth of information that will suggest ways to take care of specific needs.
  4. Make a plan: Now that you have formed your team, assessed family’s needs and gathered information, it is time to put your plan together. Host a family meeting or a conference call. Just make sure everyone on your team knows about the meeting. The plan needs to be a general outline of what the plan and schedule are. You may choose to organize the discussion around the major area of life that might be impacted by caregiving responsibilities such as financial, travel, your own families, employment and illnesses.
  5. Take action: Sometimes the best-laid plans are hard to implement. When a crisis happens it is difficult to remember a specific action. Just remember no matter how organized and committed you are, the plan will change as you go along. You must be flexible. The plan still will ensure a meaningful and caring future for those you love. Although it is very difficult to see your loved one decline in health, you will never regret the time you have spent caring for them!

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