If you’ve found this website it’s likely that you are about to take on the important role of a caregiver. Whether it’s for your aging parent, or another loved one who is depending on you, it can be either be a time of personal fulfillment or great stress. I experienced both as a long distance caregiver for both of my parents, which is why I founded Seniority Matters. I want to make it easier on other family caregivers by helping them make the kind of smart decisions that will result in less stress and higher quality care for their loved ones.
It’s likely that you’ve observed good caregiving situations that you can model as well as unfortunate situations involving inadequate care, anguish and family dissent, that you undoubtedly want to avoid. What makes the difference between these two scenarios? Looking back on my own caregiving experience and providing guidance to many families, I have learned a lot.
Five key strategies for finding the best possible solutions
1. Plan ahead. Family members who take the time to think about their eventual caregiving needs will experience far less stress when the need for medical or lifestyle support arises. For example, if your parent were to suffer a stroke tomorrow, do you know the names of their primary care and specialist physicians? Do you know their insurance plan or their current medications? Is there a HIPAA consent form on file so a physician can discuss the case with you?
2. Share caregiving responsibilities. If you have siblings, dividing up the caregiving tasks based on individual talents, availability and proximity to your parents can be beneficial to everyone. For instance, one sibling might oversee your parent's finances while another focuses on medical care. It’s very important for family members to share information and make decisions together in times of crisis.
3. Spend wisely. Caring for an aging parent can be an expensive proposition, so look closely at just what services are needed. For example, your parent might need companion care to help with personal care or a ride to a social event. By “cherry picking” just the services that are needed early on, you can preserve funds for their future needs.
4. Identify eldercare resources in your parents’ community. Municipal governments and non-profit organizations offer many free programs that are often overlooked by local and long-distance caregivers. From meal delivery and transportation services to caregiver respite care, these programs might offer a solution for your situation.
5. Find a trusted resource. From time to time, every caregiver has pressing questions or needs help with making important decisions. When that happens, it's important to connect with an advisor with the experience and wisdom to provide unbiased advice based on the unique requirements of your parent or loved one.
In the past five years, I’ve helped hundreds of families navigate the many challenges of caregiving. I invite you to take advantage of all our resources and services.
My best wishes to you and your loved ones.