Caregivers and Caregiving- some things to keep in mind

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This post is part of a series of posts I’m sharing on behalf of Genworth Financial, a comprehensive financial resource site.  Today I’m going to talk about Caregivers and Caregiving.  I maybe have a different perspective than others- my mom had home care providers, because she did not wish to be in a hospital for any reason…and eventually, hospice was involved. When mom was sick, dad WAS her caregiver.  She joked about a month before she died that she kept his mind going while he kept her body alive.   I feel like this tends to be part of people’s lives when they are a bit older than 38.  Or maybe just with people I know in my “circles” who need caregivers.

things to remember about being a caregiver and caregiving

With caregivers, there are things that have to be addressed.  Legal documents are often involved.  Hey, I didn’t say this would be a fun post to read, but this is important stuff.  We all NEED to talk to our loved ones about down the road, the what ifs, because too often, waiting until that time comes means its too late.  Having legal documents in place will give you peace of mind that your loved ones do know what your wishes are and that whomever it is you have chosen to be your voice in the event that you aren’t able to speak for yourself, that they know too.  Your greatest wish may be that your care takes place at home and not in a facility- but if you don’t vocalize that, no one will know.  There are so many options available in our country, but if we don’t discuss them, no one will know.   Power of Attorney, health directives, and more.  These are all important papers and topics that can’t just be left to chance.

We are living with this in my family right now.  My parents wrote out health directives and signed do not resuscitate documents years ago.  Even with those documents in place and one of my sisters having power of attorney, we’ve had to speak up to remind those who care for our dad exactly what his wishes were.  I can’t stress enough how important having these documents in place BEFORE you need them can be.  Even with them in place, it’s taken months for my sister to get addresses changed, things squared up, ducks in a row, so to speak.  Months and a lot of calls, emails and documentation sent out (sometimes more than once) to get things straightened out.  That’s WITH legal documents in place.  Can you imagine what a headache that would be for someone without legal documents in place?

If you are a family member doing the caregiving, one thing that YOU need to do is be sure to take care of yourself.  Find ways to get breaks for yourself.  Your loved one will not want you to run yourself ragged if it can be helped.  You aren’t going to do anyone any good if you aren’t in a good place yourself. Ask other family members to come even for an hour or two every few weeks- go out and get coffee, have lunch with a friend, go for a walk.  Being a caregiver can be an amazing and wonderful experience, in many ways, but it can be equally exhausting and emotionally (sometimes physically) exhausting.  Many caregivers have families of their own.  Find out what resources are available and use them. If an hour of “you” time means you feel better and are in a better place emotionally, the time you are caring for your loved one will be better spent.  It’s easy to get burnt out from caregiving.  Try to take steps to ensure you get breaks so that you don’t burn out.

This article from Huffington Post about women being caregivers, but who takes care of them, spoke volumes to me.  It also reinforces to me that talking about what may come down the road and planning for it are important conversations to have.

This post is brought to you by our friends at Genworth, but opinions are my own.  It’s an important thing to talk about!

 

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About the author: I’m a 30-something mom to three, brand ambassador. content creator, social media maven, blogger extraordinaire, earth lover, butcher, baker, candlestick maker (or something along those lines) – love word games, crafting, cake decorating or shooting pictures.

36 comments… add one

  • Great post..It’s good to think about these details as your parents age and to have plans.

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  • Great information, we are currently caring for my MIL. We have Healthcare power of attorney, and will but I need to get a few more papers drawn up. Thanks so much. It is a VERY GOOD idea to talk to your loved ones early on. If they have dementia or those other mind affecting problems, you will be glad you did.

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  • This is a wonderful post. I think that planning ahead is SO important especially when it comes to those close to your heart. Thanks for this! I will pass it on.

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  • Great advice. And anything could happen at any time. This advice is not just for the elderly; god forbid your spouse was in an accident, it would be helpful to know their wishes ahead of time. It’s hard to talk about, but necessary.

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  • very important to have legal documents drawn up no one wants too but very necessary thanks for bringing awareness

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  • I couldnt agree more with you! I brought this point up to my husband a while back and he immediately retracted like I was morbid. Once I explained to him that it was a part of life and we needed to be preparing for our kids sake he understood. A lot of people don’t want to think about these sorts of things, but end up unprepared and dealing with more stress when an issue arises. Good post!

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  • Great Article. I was in my first year college when my grandfather had a heart attack. I had always been really close to him so I dropped everything and went back home. For the past year I have been living with him and taking care of him by helping him with daily tasks that are hard for him to do now.

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    • Courtney, that must be so hard for you. But an amazing gift for your grandfather <3

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  • I found this information very useful and forwarded the link to a uncle of mine who has recently become the primary caregiver for my elderly grandfather.

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  • My mother had a stroke about three years ago, and eventually had to go to a nursing home. My sister and I were ill prepared for all the difficult decisions we had to make on our mother’s behalf. Sadly, my mother passed away last year. I have gotten quite an education on what to do so that my child will not have to go through what my sister and I have been through. I wish I had had this information beforehand.

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    • I’m sorry about your mom, Diane.

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  • Being 47 I guess it is smart to start thinking of this kind of thing because I never want to have to be a burden on my kids

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  • This is a really great post with excellent information! My father is a lawyer who manages estate planning so i actually already am familiar with some of this.
    Although i hate the idea of my parents aging and needing care i do need to make plans

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  • Advance directives make sense. I’d add the importance of making burial/cremation wishes known in a separate document. Many people mistak have all mine in order and it’s comforting to know this will not be an additional source of mixed feelings, drama and grief when I croak.

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  • This post really hits home for me. I was my mother’s caregiver when she moved in with us for the last years of her life. Sure, I got tired, but I look back on it and I treasure every minute I spent with her then, even on the difficult days. I only wish I had brought her into my home sooner.

    My advice: Enjoy the person you’re caring for, every day. You’ll never regret it.

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  • Thank you for this information, these are real important to be a good caregiver and to watch your own back just in case.

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  • This is such an important post and I thank you for posting it.My mom took care of my grandma and none of her 2 brothers or 2 sisters helped. My mom’s health suffered because she was so stressed & exhausted. Me and my 2 sisters helped by staying with my grandma while my mom went shopping or just needed a break.My mom was also her power of attorney.Eventually my grandma needed medical attention that my mom couldn’t provide so she had to go to a home.My mom felt bad putting her in there but we kept telling her that my grandma needed to be in there. It’s not easy being a caregiver but like you said it’s so important to take a break. God Bless all you caretakers :)

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  • Thank you for sharing this information. These are important topics when facing a caregiving situation. I cover them in detail along with additional topics in my book – Suddenly a Caregiver, released March 2013. The open and honest dialog with family members is difficult but one that I found very rewarding. I learned many lessons while caring for my wife who was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme – a stage 4 brain cancer. I share the learning for those who find themselves in a caregiving situation.

    Regards,
    Darryl Pendergrass

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    • Thank you for your comments,Darryl. Im going to check your site out later this afternoon.

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  • Thank you for sharing this information, even though I’m in my 40s I had not thought about this topic much.

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  • I need to as my in-laws about this. Thanks for the reminder!

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  • depending on the persons situation who needs the caregiving Adult Day Care is a good option. Gives the caregiver some alone time when the individual is in a safe environment out of the home

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  • As soon as I found out I was pregnant last year I told my husband we needed to draw up a will. And the will includes the information about health directives etc. So not fun but super important. Great post.

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  • This is a great post. Getting these documents in order can be a challenge, and as much as we don’t want to admit it; a headache. It’s funny how our parents take care of us growing up and then we start to take care of our parents as they continue to age. My family decided it was time to start getting some these documents together for my mother. I sat down with my mother and we found this company called Rocket Lawyer that offers free power of attorney forms, http://www.rocketlawyer.com/document/power-of-attorney.rl, and we set everything up there. My mother and I put a lot of time into making sure everything was valid, so we contacted an attorney as well to cover any parts of the document that we may have missed.

    A HUGE part of this process is being open and trustworthy with your family members. As important as these documents are to create, they can cause a lot of tension between families. Just another tip to keep in mind.

    Great read!

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  • Really great post – I agree, it’s absolutely critical to cover yourself with legal protections for whatever your wishes are. Also really important for caregivers to look out for themselves. I was listening to a dating advice show the other day and the gist of it was a younger guy calling in because one of his buddies didn’t have a girlfriend and he was worried that this guy might be lonely. He mentioned that his friend was a full-time caregiver for his mom, so the host told him, “Instead of worrying about how you can set him up on dates, why don’t you offer to help out one afternoon so he can take a break from caregiving?” They made really good points about how isolating and overwhelming it is to be a caretaker, which is great to hear talked about in all different forums, since I think it’s difficult for a lot of people to relate to when they’ve never been in the situation.

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  • That is a great reminder. I needed a lot of stuff in place last year for my dad and we didn’t have it.

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  • Thanks for the informative post. My parents are starting to get to that age where I need to really think about these things.

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  • It’s an uncomfortable subject, but it’s important. Situations do unfortunately arise where referring to the directives and wishes is critical.

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  • this is great information, I will pass this on to my parents.

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  • Thanks for sharing – this is a great reminder

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  • Thank you for the great post. Gave me a lot to think about – especially knowing my parents are gaining in years.

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  • thanks for the great info. My mom is getting older so it’s good to know about this stuff…

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  • This is great information, thanks for sharing. We really do need to take care of these things before it’s too late… I’ve heard of too many people waiting and then it gets too difficult.

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  • The scariest thing in life is watching your parents age. You are right, this isnt an easy conversation to have – but it is a necessary one for sure.

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  • I’ve worked with the elderly for 8 years, and being a paid caregiver can be exhausting…. being a caregiver for an elderly relative is downright draining. I definitely recommend seeking outside help- even if it’s only part-time. It’s also important to know when to say “it’s time” for a facility rather than home care. Lots of important decisions, lots of financial issues as well.

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  • This is a great reminder! Even though we are still young, it’s still important to make sure we have everything in order.

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