ARGH! How in the world will you able to do this?
It’s intimidating to think about stepping in to help a family member with a chronic illness. You’re stepping into a whole new world of doctors, treatments, community providers. And, worries. Lots of worries. It’s a strange place to find yourself.
So, how do you do this?
I’ve recorded a video that shares tips to help.
During the video, I share these four tips:
1. First, write down your concerns. Ask siblings and other family members to do the same. Arrange for a conference call to discuss your concerns. You may not all be on the same page—that’s okay. If your gut screams that something’s wrong, listen to it.
Then, work through your list of concerns by creating a list of potential solutions. List any solutions which come to mind, including these providers and services:
—Meals on Wheels
–Telephone check-in services (can call your family member once a day to check in)
—Home health agencies (can provide home health aide to help your family member with personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation)
—Adult day centers (your family members attend this program which provides socialization and meals)
—Geriatric care managers (can provide an in-home assessment of your family member, recommend, oversee and manage services)
–Snow removal services
–Lawn maintenance services
–Grocery delivery services
–Local teenagers (who can be hired to do chores around the house)
–Local university students, including those majoring in pre-med or nursing (also can be hired to help)
—Elder law attorney (to create important documents such as a durable power of attorney for health care and finances)
—Financial planner (to help with investment decisions and care budgets)
–Pharmacist (to review current medications)
—Geriatrician (a physician specializing in care for older adults)
–Personal emergency response systems (a bracelet or necklace your family member wears which can alert you and other medical professionals if your family member needs help)
–Community (parish nurses, social service agencies, county programs may be available in your family member’s town or county; search for services and program that can help at BenefitsCheckup.org)
–Area Agency on Aging (a state- and federally-funded organization which can refer you to help and programs; visit eldercare.gov for a referral to your local agency)
–House of worship (churches and synagogues may have programs to help)
–Family Medical Leave Act (allows you to take unpaid leave to care for a parent or spouse or child)
–Employee Assistance Program (your employer may have an EAP, which can offer suggestions and resources to help)
–Disease-specific group, such as the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (can provide information about a disease process, support groups and referrals to help)
–US Postal Service (if your family member has a long walk to get the mail, the local post office can bring mail to the door)
–Others who’ve been through something similar (like members of Caregiving.com, who can be a terrific resource for you; join us here)
2. Consider what’s the most pressing concern. What worry will keep you up at night?
3. Next, you’ll want to get the facts:
–Understand medical needs;
–Take care of important legal documents like a durable power of attorney for health care and finances;
–Begin to understand financial resources.
4. Finally, keep in mind that finding solutions and understanding how to help is a process. Because it’s a process, experiment with options, try what you think may work and think outside the box. Give yourself time.
—The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey: This synopsis of my handbook offers suggestions on how to communicate with your family member and steps to take when you first begin to help. To purchase the handbook, go here.
—One Household for All? To Combine or Not to Combine: It seems easier to have your aging relative move. But is it better? Our series helps you reach right the decision.
—The Truth and Your Team: You’ll need help; this series helps you organize a team that helps you and your family member.
—POA and a Good Attorney: A Family Caregiver’s Best Friends
- You Can’t Wait 10 Years (caregiving.com)
- Working and Caregiving: Communication, Flexibility, Creativity (caregiving.com)
- Finding Your Fit with a Career and Caregiving (caregiving.com)
- New Reports Explore Your Health Care Role (caregiving.com)
- No Longer on the Tree (caregiving.com)