Being a caregiver is a stressful and demanding job, often with no pay and no thanks. There is usually very little, if any opportunity to plan as often it starts after a crisis medical event. The well-being of the caregiver requires priority consideration. Let’s face it, if you are not well, they won’t be well.
Here are 9 Must Do's:
  1. Educate. Know your loved one’s health issues. Learn as much as you can
  2. Accept. Do not take behavior changes personally. It is not about you
  3. Be Resourceful. Do what you can with what you got
  4. Be Realistic. Plant both of your feet in reality and in the present
  5. Get Help. Seek professional help whenever necessary. You WILL need help
  6. Get More Help. DO ask for help. It may seem hard now but you need it, they are willing. It’s a win-win
  7. Delegate. Share your concerns and responsibilities with other interested parties
  8. Rest. Know your limits. Take breaks when you need to, if not physically then at least mentally
  9. Smile. Laugh through the tears
Take care of yourself 
Because You Care

1. Start early. This mean less pressure and you have the luxury to stop and pick up the conversation if you need to take a pause. 
2. Include other family members. Family dynamics differ but ultimately you are not alone.
3. Let them know why you are having the conversation. Your parents love you. Your concerns are their concerns. 
4. Keep in mind, your parents still need to be independent. The goal is for them to remain independent as long as they can with minimum intrusion. They need to be in control of their lives.
5. Agree to disagree. It it important to respect their wishes but safety comes first. 
6. Use good communication skills, despite the highly emotion topics. Offering options is more effective that offering advice. 
7. When the time is right, ask about records and documentation. insurance policies, wills, health care proxies, living wills, trust documents, tax returns, and investment and banking records are located. You can start by asking your parent where they keep their papers, and whom you should contact in case they're in an accident, or are incapacitated. But understand they may be hesitant to disclose all information but  this might make it a bit easier.
8. Your parents may not have all the information. Learn about long-term health care insurance together. Medicare does not cover it and medicaid only covers low income individuals. 
9. Re-evaluate. When the situation shifts or if you can't have all the conversations at once.... revisit. 
10. Always be respectful.While old age can be a rewarding time, it is also often a time of loss - of loved ones, of health, and of independence. Treat your parents with love and respect, and reassure them that you will be there for them as they age. 
11. Remember you can plant a seed with a whisper more than you can with a scream. 

Because You Care

rces: https://www.agingwithdignity.org/forms/5wishes.pdf

Inspired by: "Ten Tips for Talking to Your Aging Parents", AARP Health Care Options/Met Life Mature Market Institute

As we march into this holiday weekend, despite all the responsibilities remember to have fun. Life is made up of moments. I know it's corny but it's true. Make each moment count... So think of July 4th as a trial run for Thanksgiving & Christmas. Here are some tips when you have to set the table for grandpa and his +1:

  1. Learn everything you can about the kind of dementia and what to expect, physically, physiologically, mentally and emotionally.
  2. Let guests and others know what to expect. The fewer surprises the less stress. 
  3. Have a plan in place in case you have to shift gears, locations or…..
  4. Keep close to routine. Think about the kinds of activities that are planned for the holiday. See if you can modify it to be as close to regular routine as possible. Also consider the environment, instead of a picnic in the park do it in someone’s back yard. One less thing to worry about if grandpa tends to wander. Plan a story time I bet grandpa would love to tell the kids some stories from way back when…
  5. If you notice grandpa getting overwhelmed take him away from the group to somewhere calm and familiar, remember you have a plan B.
  6. ASK for HELP.

And remember… they can’t change but you can.

Because You Care



1.     Seek support from other caregivers.  You are not alone! 
2.     Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
3.     Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you. 
4.     Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors. 
5.     Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
6.     Watch out for signs of depression and don't delay in getting professional help when you need it. 
7.     Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one. 
8.     Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
9.     Make sure legal documents are in order.
10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!
11. As much as you can try to plan ahead to avert crisis. We are all approaching the inevitable. 

Because You Care

First published by Caregivers Action Network

I hope everyone had a great long holiday weekend with friends, family, food and fun. Going through this weekend reminded me of family traditions and our need for that kind of continuity. Then as always I think about other families, caregivers, carees and.... My advise/request is simple. Write down a day in the life of your loved one. Write down all the special things you do for them that you would want done if you were not present. For example, if your caree wakes up every morning looking forward to a cup of coffee with 2 sugars and a cream write it down. Especially for those that can not voice their own desires. Not getting that cup of coffee is not the end of the world for us but for someone with spotty memory it is more the association than the coffee and infinitely frustrating.  

It is not enough to just make sure our caree is set financially, but those routines that come with everyday life are equally important. If every July 4th you take your loved one on a picnic to the park and watch fireworks... imagine if they don't get to go? Or if they hate fireworks for some reason, imagine if they are forced to go. 

Life is made up of moments and memories and once the memory starts to fade we have only the moments and emotions.

Because You Care
Photo by: Kate Ter Haar