Who’s Got Your Back? Do You Have a Caregiving Backup Plan?

January 6, 2010 at 2:07 am Leave a comment

When our children are born, we give them godparents–someone who will watch out for them if something (god forbid) happens to us. We plan ahead. We think about who is the best person or couple for this role. Who will be good to our children? Who will keep our spirits alive? Who will give them the very best care? We even  invite them to family events and to ceremonies where we honor their role. Too bad we don’t do that for our elder-parents. If something happens to you, who’s got your back? Caregivers forget this very important detail.

And yet most caregivers I know fear that if something would happen to them, who would care for those they love? They let this fear paralyze them. It seems like such a big, seemingly difficult problem to solve that we avoid it, put it off, and never mention it to a soul. But the fact is, when you are caring for someone who needs you and relies on you, part of your job is to make sure they’re cared for–whether you can be there–or not.

Many caregivers have their own health issues. They delay going to their doctors, forget to fill their meds, they eat to comfort themselves (oftentimes with the wrong foods) and experience dangerous levels of stress and sleep deprivation. So not only do we not have a backup plan, we play Russian roulette with our own lives.

I put myself in this category. I’m not sure I had a valid backup plan when I was caring for my mom who had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. I was an only child. I had no siblings to step in the gap. If I were to die in a car crash, my mother’s care would most likely fall on my husband’s shoulders–along with raising our three kids. Not very nice of me, really, to not have a plan in place.

What plan? You ask. Who would willingly step into my shoes?

Good question. Perhaps it’s not as much a person to step in and be “you,” as much as it is a person who could make decisions–and find a place and the proper care your loved one needs. So instead of looking for a “mini-me,” look around in your life for someone wise and fair, a good planner, an organizer, a person who doesn’t get snagged by emotions or conflict.

You may turn to the professionals–a geriatric care manager or elder-law attorney. You may turn to a family member or clergy Write down–worst case scenario–who or what care facility would be the best fit. Is there a small care home nearby? It might not be exactly what you’d dream of, but I don’t think kicking the bucket is what you dreamed of either.

Take a look at your loved one’s insurance policies. Can you get supplemental care? Do you know how Medicare works? If not, attend a caregiving conference in your area and ask for help. Go online to Medicare.gov and get familiar with their offerings. It’s not as complicated as you might think. Ask a friend or family member who has already been down this road for some advice or assistance.

Yes, it’s scary, but not having a backup plan is even scarier. Take a deep breath and begin to form a simple plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or planned to the nth degree. Ask for help. It feels so good to know that someone’s got your back.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving.

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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