A care plan can reduce stress when caring for aging loved ones.
Aging often reduces independence.
Sometimes, this happens in degrees.
Other times, it occurs suddenly.
According to a recent Nerd Wallet article titled “Create a Care Plan for Older Parents (or Yourself),” many seniors and their families are woefully unprepared for the level of support aging parents will require.
Some people mistakenly believe Medicare covers costs for basic assistance.
It does not.
Personal money must be spent, or family members must make themselves available to help loved ones with their daily needs of cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom.
When decisions regarding support must be made quickly, stress and costs are higher than they need to be.
Having a care plan reduces emotional and relational turmoil during these times.
What is a family care plan?
A family care plan addresses the logistics of aging.
Families decide with their aging parents how any physical decline will be supported.
This can include making a plan for temporary disability and recovery, such as when a hip or knee must be replaced.
As they begin planning, aging parents and their families must evaluate how suitable the home is for recovery.
Various questions must also be asked and answered.
Do changes need to be made to the home, or will a temporary relocation to the home of a loved one be required?
Who will help with cooking, cleaning, bathing, toileting, and changing clothes?
Having a plan for two to three months is a good start to building a long-term care plan.
Many aging parents prefer to remain in their homes as they age.
I get that.
To support this goal, loved ones or paid workers can be called on to help.
Often, both family and paid support are utilized.
When relying on family, it can be helpful to include in the care plan logistics regarding support, reimbursement, and compensation.
Even if home health aids will be paid to provide support, someone in the family must be the point of contact and coordinator.
Paying attention to finances is vital to creating a care plan.
After all, the devil is in the details, yes?
Research whether aging parents qualify for government support through Medicaid, veterans benefits, or state programs.
If they do not qualify for government support, review bank accounts and savings to determine what can be used to pay for services.
Depending on when the care plan is being created, purchasing long-term care insurance can also help financially.
The physical environment can either support or hinder independent living.
Consulting with an occupational therapist can help you know what adaptions or upgrades can be made to the home to support an aging parent who has become disabled.
Even if the home supports the physical needs of the disabled aging parent, the neighborhood may not.
The aging parent will still need to get food, socialize, and even travel to healthcare appointments.
Sometimes, a care plan includes a move to a senior living or independent living facility.
These offer good amenities without the additional support of long-term care.
If it is evident another move will be required to a location where long-term care services are available, aging parents will need to decide if moving another time is okay or if the preference is to start with a continuing care or assisted living facility.
It is their call, as long as they can make that call.
Do not wait too long before having this conversation.
Once these logistics have been discussed and decisions have been made, write the care plan and share it with all family stakeholders.
As circumstances change, revisiting and revising the plan as needed is normal.
Reference: Nerd Wallet (Aug. 24, 2023) “Create a Care Plan for Older Parents (or Yourself)”