We just posted a blog about Alzheimer’s Awareness Month coming up in November. Appropriately, November is also National Family Caregivers Month with a 2019 theme of #BeCareCurious, a nod to the empowerment of caregivers to ask questions and gather information to help them help the loved ones for whom they provide care.
For example, spouses, adult children, parents and other relatives as well as close friends may provide physical, emotional, financial or legal support to loved ones who are vulnerable because of advanced age, chronic illness, or physical or mental disability.
CaregiverAction.org recommends curiosity about:
- Care goals: Try to get information from your loved one about what goals they have for treatment and care, even if it is difficult to discuss or for them to articulate.
- Treatment: Be in constant communication with your loved one’s treatment providers to be aware of all options, especially developments in medical research.
- Research: Understand your loved one’s medical diagnoses. Use reliable sources on the internet and discuss with their doctor how your relative or friend is impacted. Talk to your network of friends and family to get new ideas and information.
- Care plans: When your loved one is hospitalized, be assertive about concrete planning for discharge, medication, medical procedures and other care concerns. Ask for training if you need it to provide care at home.
- Insurance: Understand your loved one’s insurance coverage. If they need a change, look at Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or any other government or private options. Research how to appeal coverage decisions with which you disagree.
If you are a Colorado caregiver, whether you provide direct, physical support in the home or manage and monitor care within a residential facility, do not forget to care for yourself, too. Like they say at the beginning of a flight, put on your own oxygen mask first so you can help anyone depending on you. Support groups and therapists can help with the emotional challenges and stress load. Reach out to other friends and relatives for help or even a shoulder to lean on. Take advantage of the wisdom and knowledge of doctors, social workers and other experts.
And do not forget to talk to a lawyer about the legal protections you should put in place. Explore estate planning, guardianship or conservatorship, financial and medical powers of attorney, living wills, special-needs trusts, ABLE accounts and other vehicles that can empower you to better care for your loved one and plan for their future.