We all know that aging is a part of life. However, when it comes to caring for aging loved ones, not all of us feel completely ready for the task.
As your loved one’s physical condition and independence decrease, the burden of care will only increase. This can be an overwhelming process for the entire family. However, it’s especially stressful for the caregiver.
Caring for an aging loved one can be better with the development of a Care Plan. In this article, we will show you:
- how to develop your own Care Plan, and
- why it’s essential to your loved one’s health and your wellbeing as a caregiver.
What Is a Care Plan?
A Care Plan is simply a form that helps keeps track of a loved one’s health information. With a Care Plan, you will have all of the essential information any medical caregiver will need to know to treat your loved one. Creating and updating a Care Plan can also keep you less stressed knowing you don’t have to worry about forgetting vital information.
A Care Plan generally consists of your loved one’s:
- Medical history
- Current healthcare providers
- Health insurance
- Advanced care planning (living will, power of attorney, etc.)
- Resources needed for care
A healthcare provider often helps families complete this plan if needed. Try to update the Care Plan at least once a year or whenever a new medical condition arises or new medication is prescribed.
How a Care Plan Can Benefit Everyone
In the event the main caregiver steps away or is out, a Care Plan helps others know what is currently in place and lays the foundation for successful navigation in the absence of this person.
There will be work and resource-gathering to begin developing a plan, but once it’s complete you will see tremendous benefits for you, your loved one, and the entire family. A Care Plan can benefit all parties by:
- Providing consistency in care. No matter where your loved one is being cared for, a Care Plan will immediately fill in any caregivers that need to know the scope of their medical conditions and how to treat them. If you can’t personally be there to inform and advocate, a Care Plan can help.
- Clarifying medical conditions. Taking the time to discuss your loved one’s medical conditions and how they need to be treated helps clarify them for your own understanding. Knowing exactly what your loved one needs, will make going to the doctor or the hospital less overwhelming.
- Clarifying your loved one’s wishes. Knowing in advance what treatment your loved one wants and under what circumstances, makes decision-making easier. Instead of guessing what the next steps should be, you’ll know exactly what they should be by following the plan.
- Improving overall health management. Knowing all aspects of your loved one’s health and advanced care wishes keeps management neat and easy. Better managed health means fewer hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room for your loved one.
- Providing valuable resources to caregivers. A Care Plan should always include resources for you as the caregiver to give you the support you need when you need it. Some resources you may want to collect include:
- Local caregiver support groups
- Legal and financial counseling
- Transportation services
- Nutrition programs
- Respite care
- Adult daycare
- Home care
- Hospice care
Having a Care Plan at the ready means you won’t have to be making quick decisions under tremendous stress. Instead, the plan will help you think through everything your loved one needs and how you as a caregiver are going to best provide it.
How Can I Develop a Care Plan?
Creating a Care Plan will take some time because it is a thorough collection of ALL the health information someone may need for your loved one. Gathering and recording the necessary information will be worth the investment. To develop your own plan, consider the following steps:
Talk to your loved one
If your loved one is able to discuss their own care, that’s where you should begin the process. After all, no one is as familiar with their health and wellbeing as they are. If they are not able to assist you with the information you’re looking for, bring together any family members or friends who have assisted with their care in the past to help gather information.
Assess your loved one’s needs
Knowing your loved one’s exact needs is the first step to making sure they are all being met by their caregivers. Assess what kind of care and support your loved one needs and add it to the plan as needed.
Talk to your loved one’s healthcare team
Second only to your loved one’s knowledge about their health and wellbeing, is their healthcare team. Seek their assistance in filling out the information they are most knowledgeable about.
Reach out to professionals
You don’t have to be alone in the process of creating a Care Plan. There are professionals at the ready who have experience in creating plans for other families. Medicare will cover services that help you manage chronic conditions and discuss advanced care planning. Reach out to the Edwards Group Elder Care Team and see if an Elder Care Consultation is right for your family.
Assess your needs as a caregiver
Caring for a loved one is not going to be easy, and there will be times you feel out of your depth. However, assessing how much you know and how much you need to know about caring for your loved one will help make the task more manageable. Think of how you are going to address concerns such as safety at home, managing your loved one’s challenging behaviors, or managing your own stress.
When you reach out for help and use all available resources, creating a Care Plan doesn’t have to be a stressful process.
Having a care plan in place will allow you to be better informed and make better decisions. Especially in an emergency situation!
Ready to Develop a Care Plan?
If you find yourself in the role of caregiver for a loved one, it’s time to consider developing your own Care Plan to help manage it all. The Elder Care Team at Edwards Group has taken all of the guesswork out for you. Download our free Care Plan PDF today to develop your own plan. Our downloadable form will make sure you have all your bases covered when it comes to taking care of your loved one and taking care of yourself as their caregiver. Give us a call at 217-726-9200 to get started.