In the last article in our series on how to make the transition into caring for your elderly loved ones, let's look at how to involve others in the process. First, you need to be realistic. You can't care for your loved one alone without giving up parts of your life. But truth is, you don't have to make as many sacrifices as you probably believe. Here are a few steps to take in assuring the best for both you and your loved one.
–Get support from family and friends. Perhaps the most important aspect of beginning elder care is setting up a support network for both you and your loved one. Be inquisitive with doctors, communicate with pharmacists, and consult others who've made the transition. You're not the first person to make this transition, so allow others to guide you. Look to others for help rather than feeling the pressure of doing everything on your own.
–Talk to your elderly loved one. Granted, not all seniors are of the mental capacity to make sound decisions about their future, but if your senior is able, involve them in the process of elder care. Give them a voice, heed their advice, and listen to their preferences. By involving them, you will gain their trust and cooperation, and will better know how to care for them.
–Create a caregiving team. Tying in with the idea that you don't have to be the only one providing care for your loved one, create a team of loved ones, friends, or medical professionals who will be involved in the caregiving process. Assign tasks to them if they are able to contribute (financial recording, transportation to medical appointments, pharmacy runs, monthly outings, etc.). Also make sure all members of the caregiving team are provided with as much information about the loved one that is available. Perhaps plan monthly meetings or weekly email updates to keep the line of communication open.
–Keep updated notes. Whenever meeting with a doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, care professional, insurance agent, government office, or advocacy office, write down the date of the meeting and document all advice or instructions given by the professional. Make special note of the person you spoke to, contact information, and the topic of the conversation. Maintain separate files for separate note topics—financial, legal, medical, and so on.
–Never assume. Although it sounds pessimistic, never assume the professional you speak to will make good on his/her promises. Too often busyness overcomes them and details get overlooked. Set a time to follow-up on action items, and keep track of who is doing what for your loved one. The more you become involved in the affairs of your loved one, the more you'll be able to assure they receive the best care possible.
–Don't overlook yourself. We end this series of articles with the same suggestion we began with—take time for yourself. Amidst the new responsibilities, pressures, and duties you'll encounter as a caregiver, you'll be tempted to put your own needs and desires aside. Don't work yourself so much that you neglect yourself. You still deserve time alone, doing what you love, being with others, and enjoying a hobby or vacation. Think of it this way: your loved one will receive better care as you care for yourself. Don't overlook yourself, but create weekly and monthly times of rejuvenation away for yourself. Failing to heed this advice can result in two people needing care – your loved one and yourself. Don't fall into this trap of thinking you can't take a break – you must if you want to be the best caregiver you can be.
If you would like more information concerning caring for the elderly, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) at (661) 426-2499 or visit their website at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for Elder Law solutions through wills and revocable trusts. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.
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