As November comes to a close, we’d like to wrap up 2016’s National Caregiving Month by sharing some tips from an expert caregiver. Susan Long is the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) Office on Aging Director here in Knoxville, with years of experience in senior living and caregiving.
10 Rules to Remember as a Caregiver
By: Susan Long, CAC Office on Aging
- Remember what Rosalyn Carter said: “There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
- You must start with candid conversation with your parents, your spouse or whoever about how you plan to help them meet their needs. Unless that person is severely incapacitated, they should be able to have input in this plan. Be careful not to set unrealistic goals and expectations.
- You need to organize a plan AND make a backup plan. What if you, the caregiver, were to get sick, die or if money runs out?
- Build a support network of people, agencies, facilities, respite, hospitals, home health, hospice, chaplain/faith-based support, end of life plans, etc. The more, the merrier. This could include friends, relatives, neighbors, community service leaders, church friends – you name it.
- It is very hard to delegate, but you have to do it. Some delegation can be free support by friends and family, but some may be by paid help, agencies, etc.
- Research continually on new and improved support services in your community. Use resources such as service directories, online sites and your local office on aging staff.
- Understand insurance, Medicare, hospital, and medical lingo and facts. Who pays for what is critical as you go through this process.
- Create a financial profile with the person you are caring for. You don’t have to control all of the assets, but you need to know what is available and how fast you can get to it. This can include: Social Security, pensions, monthly income, bank accounts, long-term care insurance, burial plan and investments.
- Develop a contact list while the person you are caring for can still tell you the critical details. This can include a pharmacist, pastor, banker, an insurance agent, friends who could help, distant relatives – anyone that may want to know what is going on or could help in some way.
- Review all of the relevant legal documents and know where they are located in the house or the bank. This list includes: wills, advance directives, trusts, powers of attorney, birth certificates, deed to home, insurance policies, and end of life requests.
Even with all of this in place, being a caregiver is hard, emotionally draining work. It is rewarding, yet heartbreaking. Always remember to ask yourself if you are doing what you would want others to do for you. Once the caregiver, next the care receiver… something to always remember!
The Office on Aging provides a wide variety of services and information for senior citizens and the family members and professionals who provide care or services for seniors. To learn more about the OOA’s services or to get in contact with Susan and her staff, visit their website here: http://www.knoxseniors.org/about-director.html.