Preparing to Become a Caregiver

There is a saying in the world of caregiving – that there are three types of people: people who need a caregiver, people who are a caregiver, and people who will become a caregiver. It may not be something that you think about now, because either your family is in good health, or you can’t bear to think of a time when you or your partner will need care; but it is something that you should be prepared for. It is good for your family to be prepared for a time when one of you will become a caregiver simply because that time will be very difficult in many ways, especially emotionally. Having everything put in place so you know what to do when the time comes will make it easier on you in the future. You may not be able to prepare yourself emotionally for the change in health or the change in your relationship, but you can prepare everything else. Here is a checklist of the items you need to discuss with your family and create a definite plan for when the time comes:

  1. Primary caregiver status. Who is the primary caregiver? Who is next? What support system is in place for the primary caregiver?
  2. Finances. This can often be the biggest worry. How is your healthcare being paid for? How will in-home assistance be paid for? Who will be given power of attorney for managing a parent’s finances? Make sure everyone knows what needs to be done.
  3. Finding outside help. At what point will your family no longer be able to manage without help? What help will you prefer – in-home assistance, an assisted living facility?
  4. Preparing the home. How can your home be made safe for an elderly individual? What about limited mobility? Are you living in an area with adequate transport to needs such as your family doctor, pharmacist, grocery store, etc.?
  5. What are everyone’s wishes. If you don’t have a clearly stated will, it’s better to do one now than to wait until you need to. This will help your family in case a time comes that you can’t ensure that your wishes are carried out. Make sure your loved ones know what they are.

The most important thing is to go through planning as a family. Open communication, especially with the elderly individuals of concern, will ensure that your family will be able to do what is best. If you are already a caregiver, what would you add to the list that would have made your transition easier?