People tend to procrastinate when they feel uncertain about how to manage an issue or when they feel overwhelmed with too many demands and responsibilities. But in caregiving situations, procrastination may have serious consequences. When caregivers and their aging loved ones delay decisions about medical care, housing, and advance directives, they may discover – too late – that lack of planning ultimately results in fewer options and additional stressors. For example, a frail, aging parent whose health is steadily declining, and who still lives at home is likely at some point to experience a health crisis. If no family discussions have taken place about contingencies, preferences, and the person’s choices regarding long term care, it will be that much harder in the midst of a crisis for the family to carefully evaluate the options and make thoughtful decisions.
Care managers can guide families and caregivers through the realities of aging and chronic illness by preparing them for what to expect, and helping them locate the resources that may be needed down the line. They can allay anxiety by providing support, encouragement, and objective, practical recommendations. While it is natural to put off difficult or unpleasant tasks, families who are proactive, have the ‘tough’ conversations and make decisions early on, before a crisis hits, can prevent a great deal of stress, disagreement, and trauma later on. The trick is tackling what may be delicate family issues, even if the aging person is doing well at the present moment.
Care managers know that all it takes is a fall or a serious illness for things to change on a dime. Breaking tasks down to one step at a time, may help some families paralyzed by inaction. Topics to start the important conversations include:
• Knowledge of where important information and documents are stored, such as insurance policies, wills, trusts, bank accounts, and passwords.
• The aging person’s preferences regarding help at home, long term care, his/her medical coverage and the resources available.
• The aging person’s health status, doctors, medications, and key contacts.
• The legal documents that may be needed, such as power of attorney, healthcare directives, etc.
In a culture that often seems to be in fear and denial about mortality, care managers can serve as advocate, sounding board, and steady hand to guide caregivers and their families through the aging journey.
At arrangeCARE we walk you step by step on how to deal with caregiver stress. If you would like to discuss your family’s needs under no pressure, please contact us at info@arrangeCARE.com or 850-894-6720 and we’ll be happy to help you.