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Elder Care Plan 101: Set Yourself Up for Success as a Caregiver

How can you set yourself up for success as a caregiver? It helps to have a care plan.

A care plan is a tool that professional caregivers and long-term care providers use to ensure their patients’ needs are met with timely, high-quality responses. Family caregivers can benefit from using a similar approach to either organize their daily tasks or create a formal account of all services provided in order to receive payment. (The latter is known as a Personal Care Agreement.)

Once a care plan is in place, the caregiver can efficiently organize their duties in order to lend their complete focus to one task at a time. This improves the patient’s quality of care and reduces the likelihood of any mishaps. Furthermore, such a plan allows others to participate in a loved one’s care as seamlessly as possible, which increases the likelihood that the primary caregiver(s) will be able to receive adequate respite time.


Build Your Care Team

Family members often wonder when it is the right time to become involved in a loved one’s daily life and care. Adult children typically discuss their parents’ health and living situation amongst themselves until an unforeseen event causes them to take action. However, this is not the best way to broach the subject with elders or prepare yourself for managing someone else’s health, finances and daily care. Going into caregiving blindly and without a strategy is strongly discouraged.

Support and assistance can come in the form of a care team, which includes family members, close friends, neighbors, and whomever else you trust to pitch in. However, during the initial planning discussion, it will probably be most comfortable and productive to only have the closest individuals present so it is not too overwhelming. Tackle the subject as early as possible, and from there, select upbeat individuals with practical skills join your care team.


Create Your Care Plan Template

Once you have a support team in place, you can begin to take steps towards designing a customized plan for your loved one that each team member can follow. You must work together to assess your loved one’s situation, identify their needs and set goals, match team members with caregiving tasks, and add elder care professionals and other resources before you can enact your plan.

Completing each of these phases in their entirety will help you devise a sustainable and comprehensive plan for your loved one. Going through this process early on and regularly reevaluating your care plan is the best way to be a successful caregiver.

To assist you in devising a care plan, we have created a free guide for you and your family to use during the planning and execution processes.


Care Plan Examples and Inspiration

When it comes to creating solutions for gaps or difficult areas in a loved one’s care plan, it can be highly beneficial to see what other caregivers have come up with to remedy these situations.

“My brother-in-law’s only sources of recreation are books, his cats, and socialization with his caregivers and myself. He has help to take care of his cats’ needs, and he has my small dog over for ‘sleepovers’ fortnightly. This is great for motivating him to go outside into the garden area at his flat.” —Lucy-Caitlyn, caregiver for 5 years

“Because my husband eats at such irregular times, I have Meals on Wheels delivered and can warm them up in the microwave as needed. Our daughter also brings us dinner every Sunday.” —Anita, caregiver for 2 years

Rather than simply resorting to trial and error to find answers, read about other experienced caregivers’ situations to see if any of their tips or tricks might solve your problem.


Strengthen your Care Plan with Professional Help

Family members and close friends are familiar with you and your loved one, so they are likely to have an understanding of your family’s preferences and routines. This doesn’t mean that caregiving has to be strictly limited to these people, though. For smaller families and individuals who do not have a cohesive care team, there are resources available to help make your care plan a success. Professional advisors and care services can be especially useful throughout your caregiving journey. Be sure to explore all available options below.

Home Care: Professional caregivers with home care agencies can assist your loved one with activities of daily living, housekeeping, errands, companionship and transportation services.

Adult Day Care: For caregivers who would like to keep their loved one at home, but need additional support in order to go to work during the day or take respite time, adult day services are the perfect fit.

Geriatric Care Managers: These professional advocates are typically certified social workers, nurses or other elder care industry experts. Their job is to conduct extensive research on all resources available to your loved one, coordinate benefits and care, and assist in helping team members discuss difficult topics.

Elder Law Attorneys: These legal professionals specialize in issues relating to aging like long-term care, advance care, and estate planning. An elder law attorney can assist with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, guardianship, and many other legal matters.

Financial Planners: Finding a way to finance long-term care is a common struggle for many families. A reputable financial planner or advisor can help with retirement planning, investment strategies, applications for financial assistance, tax issues, and much more.

Physicians: Your loved one’s doctors are responsible for managing medications and health care in your care plan. It’s crucial to develop relationships with each one and assist them in communicating with each other. Your care team may include your primary care physician, a geriatrician, neurologist, psychologist, and any other specialists your loved one sees.

Social Workers: Typically found in hospitals and long-term care facilities, these care coordinators help patients and their family members understand diagnoses, make decisions and locate resources to pay for care. The ultimate goal for social workers is to ensure the general wellbeing of each client.

Keep in mind that once your care plan is in place, it will continue to develop and evolve as you and your care team gain experience and your loved one’s needs change. It is a lot of work to establish a care plan, but even a partial strategy is better than nothing at all.