I May Help


I May Help


Stage 1: The Expectant Caregiver™

In the near future, I may help a family member or friend.

Who are you?
Who are you?
You have a growing concern that, within the near future, a family member or friend will need more and more of your assistance and time. You're concerned because of your relative's age, past and present medical condition, and current living condition.

Your keyword: Ask
--Ask questions of your caree. (The individual receiving your care is your “caree.”)
--Ask questions of health care professionals.
--Ask questions of lawyers and financial planners.
--Ask questions of your family members who may be involved in the caregiving role.

Your Challenge
To learn and understand your caree’s needs: health, financial, legal and emotional.

Your Purpose
You expect to become a caregiver; this is your time to prepare. You can research options, gather information, and provide the opportunity for your caree to share his or her feelings and values. This is also your time to concentrate on taking care of yourself--keeping up with family and friends, enjoying your hobbies and interests, pursuing your career goals.

As an "expectant caregiver," what can you do?

1. Consult with a good lawyer familiar with caregiving issues.
Find out about durable powers of attorney for finances and health care as well as living wills; start the process to ensure your caree has the necessary legal papers in order. Ask the attorney: What do we need to know to be prepared for the future? What additional documents will we need? What should we keep in mind?

A durable power of attorney for finances and health care appoints an agent to make decisions on behalf of your caree when he or she is unable to. If you live in one state and your caree in another, ask an elderlaw attorney about creating documents for both states in case you move your caree to your area in the future.

2. Determine financial situations.
Knowing the financial status of your caree can help determine future health care choices. Determine monthly income from pensions and social security; learn about annuities, stock investments and bank accounts. Meet with financial planners to understand how to ensure investments last as long as possible. Learn where passwords for online accounts are kept.

3. Investigate community health care options.
Which home health care agencies offer quality, affordable home care? Which housing options are available-- retirement communities, assisted living centers? Contact community organizations to request brochures and pamphlets and research these organizations online.

In addition, consider your caree's current living condition. Will your caree be able to reside safely in her home if she uses a wheelchair or becomes bed-bound? What changes can you make today that will prevent future barriers to providing care in her home? Or are the necessary changes almost an impossibility? If so, what other options do you have, such as your home, an assisted living facility, a retirement community?

4. Determine the current health care providers.
Be familiar with physicians and learn as much as you can about medications.

5. Get organized.
Before you know it, you'll be surrounded by paperwork. Put your house in order so that you'll be ready to manage your caree's financial, legal and medical information. Project management tools like Trello (trello.com) will be helpful now and going forward when you manage caregiving, one of life's greatest projects.

6. Understand your family member's routine.
When does he or she get up in the morning? Go to bed? How often does he or she attend the local senior center, library or worship services? Who does he or she call on a regular basis? Who are the friends he or she enjoys? When you understand the routine, you'll notice when problems occur that may need your intervention. In the future, if a move takes place, you can re-create the routine to provide comfort.

7. Concentrate on the reality of the situations.
Keep a realistic view of your situation: What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best possible outcome? Then, determine what options are available for each of these outcomes.

8. Start a journal to chronicle your feelings, your concerns and your actions.
You may be surprised at feelings of loss. Your preparation of the future allows you to see what your caree and you might lose. You both will experience changes in your relationship, your schedules, your amount of freedom. Write down your thoughts about the potential losses--and how you might be able to hang on to them, through minor adjustments and changes, for a little longer.

9. Take time to sort out your own issues.
It's easy to overlook these issues when life seems easy. Caregiving, especially as it intensifies, will make life hard. It's harder if you have unresolved emotional work as it relates to your caree or other family members. For instance, Judy can work with a social worker or therapist to manage any resentment she may feel toward her husband. Andy can make contact with his siblings to let them know of his concerns. If they choose to keep their distance, Andy can touch base with a therapist or life coach to create a plan for future communication with his siblings.

If you have difficulty standing up for yourself or finding your voice, this is a good time to work with a therapist or life coach to gain confidence in expressing your needs and using your voice to share your concerns.

Do you struggle with the idea of asking for help? Now is a good time to figure out why and start practicing. Knowing how and when to ask for help is a great skill, which will become a huge asset for you.

The Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, a book by Don Miguel Ruiz, offers insights about our personal codes of conduct. As your caregiving journey continues, you'll interact with family, friends and health care professionals who will drive you nuts. This book will give you the tools so you can stay sane.

10. Find your best shape—physically, emotionally and financially.
Find a work-out routine you like. Maximize the amount of healthy foods you eat. Pay off your debts. Save as much as you can. Uncomfortable managing money? Read books and take classes online and in your community to become comfortable. You'll need to be at your best—physically, emotionally and financially.

11. Learn your caree's life story.
Document the story in a journal, video or audio recording. Collect recipes, photos, letters, poems and records that reflect your caree's life and achievements. Ask questions about your caree's childhood, parents, siblings and first loves. Involve other family members, including children, in the discussions.

12. Ask your caree to introduce you to those individuals he or she values.
Ask to meet with your caree's financial planners, attorneys, physicians, minister or rabbi and other important professionals in his or her life. The relationship you form now will help you make good decisions and take effective steps later.

13. Begin each day with the knowledge that you have love.
Perhaps the toughest battles in caregiving begin within. Most battles really are about whether or not you are loved. That doubt begins the chase to find the love. End the running now. You are loved. Know it now so you can remind yourself later.

14. An apple a day…
What can you do on a regular basis to keep yourself healthy? Be good to yourself—you are too important today and tomorrow and every day after that to let your own health slip. In other words, what’s your apple?

~ Stage 1: The Expectant Caregiver™ ~ Video: Ask, Stage 1

~ Stage 2: The Freshman Caregiver™ ~ Video: Find, Stage 2

~ Stage 3: The Entrenched Caregiver™ ~ Video: Receive, Stage 3

~ Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver™ ~ Video: Welcome, Stage 4

~ Stage 5: The Transitioning Caregiver™ ~ Video: Allow, Stage 5

~ Stage 6: The Godspeed Caregiver™ ~ Video: Treasure, Stage 6

~ Our The Caregiving Years Tools, released with our eighth edition of The Caregiving Years handbook, help you find the answers and solutions right for you. Purchase The Caregiving Years PDF version to complement the tools. You also can purchase the paperback on Amazon by clicking below.

~ Your Tip Sheet: The Caregiving Years, Six Stages

~ Your Tip Sheet: The Caregiving Years, Your Steadies to Continue through The Caregiving Years

~ Resources

~ Read LivHOME's blog post about The Caregiving Years

Note: I have provided The Caregiving Years to be used strictly as a guide. All situations vary. I encourage you to always consult your health care professionals to discuss your individual situation and the best course of action for you and your caree.

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