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Preparing for Caregiving

Published by Chapster on 2005/6/24 (4530 reads)
Most folks take little time to think about the needs of our elderly loved ones until there is a crisis. That is a sure way to make certain that our stress level pegs the meter when hard times come. With a little thought and a tad of reflection, we can make preparatory steps to insure that those times are far less traumatic.

Each month ElderHope records a Community Focus segment for KEOM 88.5 FM. It is recorded in the KEOM studios. Recently, Mike was intervied by Station Director, Dr. James Griffin.

Preparing for Caregiving
KEOM & ElderHope
May 18, 2005

Q: So, Mike, what are we talking about today?

A: Today, we're talking about preparing for caregiving. Denise Browne, owner of, writes about six stages of caregiving. All of the stages she lists are very helpful and are worthy of consideration. In each stage there are things that can be done that will help ease the process, if addressed. If left unaddressed, the process will be much harder. But, today, I thought we would spend some time talking about the first stage. The first stage is a prospective one. That is, we realize that within the near future we will be involved in the caregiving process.

Q: So, at this stage we are preparing?

A: Right. We are aware of changes in the condition of our loved one or ones and as we monitor them and see subtle or not so subtle shifts, we become aware that we will need to be involved in the caregiving process in the not so distant future. At this point, wise folks have begun doing several things. They have started thinking of eventualities and what they would do if their loved one needed more care, intense and extended care. One direction that we can give thought to is to the disease processes of our loved one. What kinds of things are they having difficulty coping with? Do they have, for instance, dementia? Is the illness beginning to restrict them in any way, such as, for instance, driving? It would be important during this stage to try to assess their skills and to give consideration to how quickly the disease is progressing and what kinds of treatment are in place. If there are signs of dementia, as we have said here before, it is essential to get a diagnosis as quickly as possible. An early diagnosis with the start of treatment can significantly prolong the need to place a loved one in a nursing home. It is important then, to research what the diseases they have are, who is caring for those diseases, and what care has been initiated.

Q: Are legal considerations important at this time as well?

A: Indeed, they are. Again, attending to these kinds of things are so important before they become an issue, and this is a case in point. As we saw in the recent situation with Terri Schiavo, failure to address end-of-life legal matters can lead to the permanent dissolution of families. At this stage, parents can be clearly consulted about their wishes and the types of care they would like to receive. They can be consulted about what they would want for funeral care. They can decide who they want to be their surrogates, should they be unable to make decisions. They can decide at which point they want surrogate decision-making to “kick in.”

Q: What other kinds of decisions should be made at this time?

A: Other decisions involve where care might be given, if more care is needed? Will our loved one stay at home? Realistically, who will take care of them if they need care twenty four hours a day? If they will need to have long term nursing care, have you explored options in your locality and found some that you feel comfortable with? How about assisted living care, if that is an option?

Q: And finances?

A: Certainly, finances should be attended to very carefully. At this stage, the elderly person is able to participate in discussions and give direction. By addressing this issue now with a trusted financial planner, much can be done to reserve resources in a way that will preserve whatever savings there are for the future. In short, from whatever angle you wish to look at it, giving consideration to the medical, legal, domestic and financial future of our loved ones pays immeasurable dividends for them and for us.

Tags: caregiver   preparation   caring  

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