Caregiving is one of the few things that will affect nearly every one of us during our lifetime.
According to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 65 million people, or 29% of the U.S. population, are providing care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. About half of those care recipients are living in their own homes, and almost a third of them are living with their family caregiver, compared to only 4% living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities —making personal demands on caregivers significant.
Whether you are the one in need of care, the actual person providing care or a member of a caregiving team, there are steps you can take to navigate through the various issues surrounding caregiving and help mitigate the impact on you and your family.
Having ‘The Talk’
One of the most effective strategies is advance planning with your loved ones. The following topics are important to cover when having that discussion about future needs:
1) Define your expectations:
- What roles and responsibilities will you and your family fulfill?
- Are there other family members, friends or loved ones that will be involved?
2) Talk about your health care wishes:
- Who do you trust to make health care decisions if you’re no longer able?
- Do you want to stay in your home or live in an assisted care facility?
- Who will provide the care (family member or professional caregiver)?
3) Talk about your financial wishes:
- Who do you trust to make financial decisions if you’re no longer able?
- Do you have an estate plan in place that is it updated to reflect any life-changing events?
- Who is qualified to manage your estate long term if you are no longer capable?
And if you can, try to begin planning before it’s necessary. The conversation will be easier if it’s not done in a time of distress or emergency.
Getting Your House in Order
A durable power of attorney for your finances and health care is a necessary component of your overall estate plan. Constructing and keeping your estate plan in place and up-to-date is critical and will be an enormous benefit down the road.
Along with the myriad of community resources and other publicly available information, your team of trusted advisors can serve as a valuable resource to address questions or concerns as they arise. Dealing with issues in advance greatly reduces any confusion about what to do when caregiving is needed.
Although the prospect of a caregiving situation may seem daunting, proper planning and a few simple, proactive measures will allow you to focus on the people and not the paperwork — and be better prepared for the future.