10 Easy Steps to Coordinate Aging Parent Care

caregiving tips

Here are ten tips to help you on your caregiving journey. Turn it from a burden to an opportunity.

Tip on Your Caregiving Journey – thanks to Carol Marak at Seniorcare.com

It takes a village to care for an older adult especially if one lives with several chronic conditions. Experts in caregiving recommend to family caregivers to start planning early, long before a parent or older relative needs assistance, because if you wait until they need a lot of help, you’ll be caught off-guard and scrambling. Waiting until the last minute to find support will put you and the loved one in a precarious situation.

According to the National Association of Family Caregivers, there are close to 50 million people who provide care and assistance for the aged, chronically ill or physically challenged family member. If you think a relative will need care down the road, I recommend retaining the service of a geriatric care manager because they can set you on the right track. They have deep-seated expertise and experience in working with older adults who no longer can manage their finances and need help finding home care, locating senior living options, and setting up a care plan.

However, if you believe the older adult is not at the point of needing care very soon, there are other ways to prepare for the responsibilities—start building a support team, the people you can count on for encouragement and reinforcement. But where does one begin to put together a plan of support? Since that’s a common concern for families, I asked the Seniorcare.com Aging Council,

“Give tips and advice on how people can start to create their support team early to avoid frantic decisions during an emergency?” Here’s what they recommend:

Join an online support community

There are excellent and easily accessible online communities of caregivers. Each member practically has an unofficial ‘MBA’ in Caregiving because they are living it and learning as they go. While a situation may not be relevant now, networking with other caregivers gives you that one place you can count on for answers when an emergency creeps up – and an emergency always creeps up! Elizabeth Miller, SavvySandwicher.com.

Join or start a group to meet people who are going through the same life changes. Example: If mom is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s, a support group can offer emotional support/guidance for mom, you and relatives. Asking for or accepting help will alleviate stress, depression and other long-term health effects. Keep an open dialogue with your family and map out plans ahead of time. Gjenes Belamide, Bay Alarm Medical.

Prepare and organize legal documents

There needs to be a leader who becomes the power of attorney and the health care proxy. This person is the decision maker. Ideally, most situations have been decided in the initial meeting with the parent on what their wishes are for the future. Hiring a elder law attorney to review or implement plans will make things easier when hard decisions come around. Ryan McEniff, Minute Women Home Care.

Start the process by speaking to an estate planning expert. Many estate plan documents require you to think clearly about who AND how you would like to handle your care, especially in an emergency. Identifying AND engaging with those you trust will significantly reduce stress levels and allow you a greater degree of control in your life. Michelle Jeong, LifeAssist.com.

Make a list of professionals

Networks develop over time but need to be managed to be effective. Seniors and caregivers should keep a list address book-style with names and contact numbers of everyone providing a service including bank, lawyer, hairdresser, yardman or who helps like neighbors, church, friends and family. Don’t rely on someone’s memory for details. Keep up-to-date and engage team, so they are ready when needed. Kathy Birkett, Senior Care Corner.

Begin with the Logical and immediate members of your team: physician, family, neighbors, attorney, financial specialist, and pharmacist. Figure out what you need now to live safely and comprehensively and then envision the Long View (Five years, 10? 15?). Communicate your choices to your Team. The Emergency Room is no place to have Team members making decisions regarding your care if you have not. Nancy Ruffner, Navigate NC.

Make a list of local resources

As a psychologist in long-term care, I’ve observed that family members are the most devoted helpers, so it’s important to maintain or repair connections with family members. Religious groups often are excellent supports, but if one isn’t religiously inclined there are other types of helping communities. Think local, hands-on, with all-age members such as Meals-on-Wheels. Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., MyBetterNursingHome.com.

Obtain a home safety assessment

We recommend a home safety assessment to determine the current status of the home. It provides recommendations for immediate, short term and long term solutions. Many products, especially lighting, are affordable and reduce fall risk. The assessment advisor will also have community resource referrals for the family. Fritzi Gros-Daillon, Household Guardians.

For seniors or those with disabilities, a support network is vital because these loved ones may be more vulnerable to being isolated and need assistance in their daily lives. To build a support network, you should try and be actively involved in your community. Maintain friendships and invite good people to be part of your life, and start a formal circle of support with those you can trust. Evan Farr, Farr Law Firm.

Start discussions with relative and siblings

Nothing is more important than starting conversations early and having a plan. It is also great idea to consider the special interests and natural talents that family and friends possess that might also correlate with your care needs. While some will not be comfortable with personal care, perhaps he or she enjoys cooking and would not mind making an extra portion for you as a frozen meal. Dr. Eboni Green, CareSupportServices.org.

3 thoughts on “10 Easy Steps to Coordinate Aging Parent Care

  1. Carol Marak

    Thank you for reading! If you have questions about finding the right help for your aging relative, please ask it here. I will try my best to help you locate what you need.

  2. Josh Brower

    Thanks for another great article, Carol!

    Connections with others and their support are essential at every stage of life, but especially when we’re very young or old. However, according to Ben Mandelbaum COO at http://www.senior-planning.com/, most people don’t think about their networks “consciously” and build the support they need. It can take 20-40 people to help you care for your home if you own one, for example.

    Thanks again!


  3. Ben

    Thanks, Carol!

    Building a strong support network requires an effort to keep in touch and show loyalty to the important individuals in your life. It’s helpful to remember special days, such as birthdays or anniversaries, and to look for opportunities to support others. It’s also always good to plan ahead and discuss contingency plans with the special people in your life so that they know how to respond when an emergency strikes. — Ben Mandelbaum COO at http://www.senior-planning.com/

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