1. Speak with your loved one’s health-care professionals. Understanding the condition and needs of the person you are caring for is the first step. Be sure to ask questions about his or her health care, and get information about screenings, prescription medications, and treatment strategies. While the person you’re caring for should make his or her own decisions regarding care, when possible it’s helpful for you to understand as much as possible so that, in the event you must act on his or her behalf, you may comfortably do so. You never know when a person in your care is going to digress and lose mental capacity and if you are aware of their current situation it makes it that much easier.
2. Take a break! As a caregiver, you don’t have to shoulder the responsibility of caring for your loved one alone and all of the time. Some hospitals offer care giving counseling & other supportive services. Check with your church and local senior centers to see what resources are available.
3. Keep accurate records. Keep track of your loved one’s bills, appointments, and medications. This will help prevent any unnecessary complications in the event of a clerical error such as double billing. It could also help you stay up-to-date on preventive care, so that your loved one has all the screenings and tests his or her doctor thinks is necessary. Create a “care plan” with their family physician and keep them on track.
4. Make a budget. Review your loved one’s health-care costs each month and weigh that against his or her income sources. Determine how your loved one and you can best pay for these health-care expenses. The National Council on Aging lets you check for programs in your area that can help cover some of your loved one’s health-care costs. You may also wish to contact the IRS about potential savings. Click here for help!
5. Consider your loved one’s legal needs. If your loved one wishes you to make decisions on his or her behalf, consult your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to begin the process of getting authorized to make Medicare decisions for your loved one. Talk to your/their attorney about financial AND medical power of attorney so when the time they can’t make important decisions…you can jump in.
Remember, any information you read online, including this article, should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.