The Caregiver Conversation

It’s not easy to talk about the things you don’t want to think about, but it’s even more difficult to try to make crucial decisions for on your own when it’s too late to ask. The time to find out your loved one’s wishes is now. Caregiving is personal. You will need to understand health concerns, advanced directives, estate matters and finances. A person’s financial situation often dictates their options for care. Most of all, while they are still able, you want to take the opportunity to learn what they want.

You probably won’t get all the answers you need in one conversation.

You probably won’t get all the answers you need in one conversation. Plan on addressing topics gradually and let them know you are only asking because you want to make sure you understand their expectations.

Here are a few questions you can ask to help start the conversation:

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How have you been feeling? Have you thought about what you may want to do if your health gets worse?

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Would it make sense to you to have me help with questions and concerns about your health as the condition progresses?

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Have you thought about what might happen if you fall when no one is around?

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Would you like for us to check into getting someone to help you with errands and chores?

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How would you feel about having me help you pay your bills and keep up with paperwork?

Have you ever completed papers for your doctor telling them about your wishes? Where do you keep those papers? Do you remember who is your health surrogate?

Engaging Training

While Companion 24/7 has made getting started as simple as possible, sometimes there’s something you want to ask or understand better. Jill can help. With trained advisors like Jill, Companion 24/7 users get answers to questions and training on how to use the skills that are most important to you.

I love sharing the amazing ways Companion 24/7 can assist our customers. When they begin to see all that our system can do, I feel like I  have made a new best friend.

Our customer engagement advisors are constantly finding new skills to share and specialize in making Companion 24/7 fun and easy to use.

Here are three of Jill’s favorite skills to share!

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I love the “Tell me a joke” skill. Humor is a fun way to break the ice.
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When I show people how to “Set a reminder,” I can almost hear the wheels turning. There’s so much to remember these days. People love this feature.”
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Probably my favorite skill to share is the music. You get to know more about someone when you hear what kind of music they like. I learned that one of our customers used to sign in a barbershop quartet.

Our advisors can also provide you with a Starting Point primer and other training tools. Just schedule a short coffee chat for a personal training session with Jill or any of our other advisors.

Make it a Team Approach

Even if you’re the only child or the only child in the area, others can still help. Yes, you will need it. There are lot of ways other family members can help from a distance. Talk to your team of friends and family. Discuss the daily, weekly and monthly needs of your loved one and work together to find ways to share the duties.

Let others help! Be prepared to delegate.

Here are a few quick ideas of duties that can be managed remotely to get you started:

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Request pharmacy orders by mail

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Order groceries for delivery

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Place orders online for personal care items, clothing and other items needed

Research is another good way to help remotely – everything from cleaning services to home care companies to treatment options require significant research. Let your shopping savvy sister or your everything digital nephew do the research for you.

Here’s a tip from another family caregiver. Form an alliance with someone else you trust who may be in a similar situation and exchange care errands.

I take care of things for my mom … from grocery shopping to tech support. Since we don’t have family in the area, I made a pact with a friend who takes care of her dad. When I need to be away, I ask if she can help my mom if needed, and I do the same for her. We call ourselves the backup daughters.

Kim C.

Prepare to Care

Do you know there are several organizations that provide resources, training and support to help you better manage the role of caregiving? How many times have you or your loved one been hurt by something you didn’t know?

We regularly interview companies and organizations that specialize in caregiving to gather important advice and tips to share with you. This top tip comes from Visiting Angels, a senior care and home care agency with offices nationwide.

Top Tip: Get organized!

Top Tip: Get Organized

Time seems to evaporate when you are a caregiver. Yet, you are managing information of vital importance. You will need a system. Use whatever system suits you best, be it a file cabinet or an app, but it needs to be something you will use consistently.

The “Must Haves”

Plan to keep track of medications, names and locations of doctors and pharmacies, copies of blood work, lab tests, medical reports and hospital discharge instructions. Make sure you have current healthcare documents including insurance or Medicare cards, living wills and power of attorney papers. If you and your loved one have not signed living will and the related healthcare documents, the time to do so is now. See our story on the Caregiver Conversation.

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Have a system for organization, be it a file cabinet or an app
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Make sure you have all the “must haves”
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The time to complete and sign healthcare documents is now

While it would be easy to pile instead of file while you are so busy trying to care about your loved one, not having this information at your fingertips when you need it could cause unnecessary delays and stress. Take a moment to plan, and you will see your vision of the organized caregiver come to life!

Am I a Caregiver?

If you are here, let’s face it! You’re probably a caregiver. One way to gage if you are a caregiver: If you know the person you are helping could not do for themselves what you do for them, you are a caregiver.

It can happen so gradually – you set up a new phone for your mom, pick up a few groceries for your neighbor, drive dad to the doctor – and before you know it, you know it, you are fully engaged in how to make someone’s life happier, healthier and safer. You have become one of the more than 40 million people who form the community of caregivers in the U.S. that we call caregiver heroes.

…more than 40 million people form the community of caregivers in the U.S.

As parents and other loved ones age, caregiving duties may progress into addressing health issues, medication management, financial matters, memory loss, deterioration of sight, hearing and physical capabilities, mobility, mood and facing the inevitable. You may be asked to do things you would have never believed you could. You may surprise yourself by what you can do when the weight of the world is on your shoulders. More importantly, you’ll know in your heart you’ve made someone’s world better just by being there. Here are a few tips from other caregivers.

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Laugh daily
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Look in the mirror… and smile!
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Ask for help, and accept help

As you go through your journey of leaping tall buildings and lassoing the truth, don’t forget that you can’t care for someone else if you are not caring for yourself. Let your next good read be about how to care for the caregiver.