Creating a caregiving plan is the best way to avoid surprises when caring for a loved one. This allows family members to hash out their responsibilities and roles with each other before an unexpected health crisis occurs.
A designated team member will be responsible for each area of care. That doesn’t mean that person has to do the actual work, but they should ensure that the task is being done.
Understand the Needs
Whether caring for an aging loved one now or planning for the future, developing a caregiver plan can improve health, safety, and quality of life. It also can prevent caregiver burnout.
Begin by identifying your caregiver’s needs and finding out what services they already receive. This can include everything from medication management to social activities to specialized wound care or assistance with transportation and meal preparation.
Then, determine what gaps in support exist and who is available to fill them. Consider family members, friends, neighbors, community organizations, or paid caregivers and caregiver agencies.
Then, assign a point person for each area of care. This doesn’t necessarily mean that person will do the work, but they are responsible for addressing tasks in that area. Make sure your team members are aware that they can always ask for additional help and that it is completely normal for caregivers to need respite from their responsibilities. This is essential to their mental and physical well-being. Also, encourage your point people to research cost estimates and insurance options to understand available options.
Communicate Your Needs
Essential caregivers tips include the need to have clear expectations and communicate them. This can reduce stress, misunderstandings, and frustration for everyone involved.
This can be difficult, especially if the caregiver has difficulty verbalizing their needs or emotions. Try to be as direct and assertive as possible while still being respectful. If you need to be heard, ask for a meeting (in-person or virtual) with all key caregiving team members to discuss your concerns.
Avoid using language that suggests a lack of independence when discussing your loved one’s needs. Instead, emphasize the importance of their health and well-being.
It’s also important to broach difficult topics such as finances, insurance, and legal documents like advance directives. Having these conversations now can help minimize future problems, relieve stress and avoid last-minute scrambling when a crisis occurs. This will help the care recipient and caregiver know their wishes are being met. It also helps alleviate pressure on family members who may be overwhelmed.
Create a Team
A caregiving team is like a bicycle wheel: You’re the hub, and you need to be able to move forward, but your team’s spokes must also be in place. This is where a plan comes into play. As you assemble your core care team, consider each area of support needed (meal preparation, finances, transportation, etc.) and determine which family members possess the skills to help with those responsibilities.
If they can pitch in, you should also include non-family helpers on this list. This may consist of neighbors, reliable friends, faith community members and other social groups.
Remember that you’ll want to consult with your team and your loved one regularly. It’s common for things to change, so everyone involved must understand the current status of your caregiving plan. You can use templates and icebreakers to help initiate these conversations. This allows everyone to express their wishes and arrange future needs or concerns. This will ensure that you can have a smooth transition when the time comes.
Create a Checklist
Caregiving is a dynamic endeavor that requires planning. Having a plan reduces problems with older adults and family members, minimizes last-minute scrambling for solutions and reduces financial strain.
Create a caregiver daily checklist template for your team to use in various settings. This tracking sheet helps caregivers keep track of important tasks and ensures they provide the proper level of care for their patients.
Next, designate a point person for each area of the caregiving plan. This doesn’t mean that person has to take on all the work in that area, but they are responsible for ensuring the project is followed.
Once you have your team, meet again (virtually if necessary) and discuss the evolving plan details. It’s also a good time to confirm commitments and address any issues that may arise. Then set up a schedule for check-ins with your loved one and team to ensure the plan works as intended. eForms are an excellent tool, as they can be completed and sent remotely.
Implement Your Plan
Caregiving is a complex endeavor that requires planning and teamwork. Creating a caregiver plan can make the process more manageable and ensure your loved one receives the best care.
The first step is to understand the needs of your loved one. This can be done through discussions and by examining your loved one’s daily life to identify what areas could use improvement. Examples of sites to focus on include managing medicines, meal preparation, money management, transportation, and daily hygiene tasks.
After you have a clear understanding of the needs of your loved one, it’s time to put your caregiving plan into action. Please make sure everyone involved has a copy of the plan and that they routinely review it as necessary.
It is also important to remember to take care of yourself as a caregiver. If you are not balancing your well-being, it can be easy to burn out. Consider incorporating self-care into your caregiving plan, such as scheduling regular dates with friends or finding ways to relax and recharge.