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Caregiver Corner: Give your loved ones the gift of assurance

I have heard my mother and late grandmother (and even some church ladies) say, “Just keep on living!” Momma usually says that when it takes her longer than usual to do something that I, or a younger person, could do more quickly or she previously could accomplish with less effort. As I have entered middle age, I have a greater appreciation for the statement and its meaning.

If you are “blessed” or “lucky” enough, depending on your view of life, you, too, will live to see age 65 or beyond. By the time you reach that milestone, you probably will have noticed the onset of mental and physical deficits. I already have started seeing changes in my physical ability, endurance and capacity to remember things without prompts or notes. I even sometimes lament my husband’s grunting while exiting my small car and friends my age struggling to rise from their resting positions. I think the decline is one of the seasons of life for most of us.

Because of the recent increase in deaths of young people in our state and nation, we might be led to believe that life expectancy has decreased when, in fact, Americans are living longer. It is predicted that more Americans will live to the ages of 80 and 100 over the next 50 years than in the past. Therefore, we should anticipate living longer and start preparing for a time when we may need help from a caregiver due to diminished physical and/or mental capacity.

This season, I suggest giving the gift of assurance to our loved ones who may oversee our care.

  • Begin by making a list of important people and things.
  • Create a list of special friends and loved ones that includes their contact information (name, address, phone number, email address, and social media handles).
  • While you are still lucid, establish a will or trust to designate who does what under what circumstances, as well as who gets what.
  • Create and safely store logins and passwords to access important accounts. Then, make sure someone knows how to locate that information.
  • Make your wishes known. Do you want to stay in your home, live with a loved one or go to a nursing home or assisted-living facility when you can no longer care for yourself completely?
  • List all assets that must be managed or monitored.
  • Begin adding trusted loved ones to financial accounts, policies, deeds, etc.
  • List your healthcare providers, along with their locations and contact information.
  • Authorize a loved one or two to receive disclosures from your health care providers regarding your care.
  • List whom you want to manage your finances and care, and be sure to inform them.
  • Create a list of insurance policies, policy numbers and contact information.
  • Make sure a friend or loved one has a key or access to your home.
  • If you have a pet, designate who will care for the pet.

This gift of assurance will greatly help the caregivers who oversee your care and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

What else would you recommend? Email me your suggestions.

Written by Dr. Tracy Daniel-Hardy

Dr. Tracy Daniel-Hardy is the author of “The Adventures of Butch and Ruby: Chronicles of a Caregiver” and director of technology for Gulfport School District. She may be contacted at tracy@drtracydanielhardy.com.

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