Primary Caregivers

Advance Health Care Directives and POLST

The Advance Health Care Directive (ADHC) allows you to appoint someone (health care agent, attorney-in-fact, proxy or surrogate) to make a decision for you if you can not speak for yourself. It is also called the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Natural Death Act, Directive to Physicians or a Living Will. (The living will is slightly different; check on what is recognized in your state.) Every state recognizes the ADHC, but states have their own forms, as laws vary from state to state.


Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Caregivers

Floods, earthquakes, tornados, snowstorms . . . wherever you live, there likely exists the potential for a variety of natural disasters that can create an emergency situation. When you're caring for a loved one, it's times like these that you'll be thankful for having prepared for such a situation.

Please use this checklist to organize your emergency preparations. It should be used in conjunction with the Where to Find My Important Papers checklist.


Making Decisions: What Are Your Important Papers?


As you face aging and the need to make plans for your future, you face having to make decisions about many aspects of your lives.  These legal and health care decisions not only protect you from others making decisions for your care that you do not want, they also protect family and loved ones by giving them guidance in the care that you would like to receive.  After completing all the legal paperwork, the next step is to sit down and talk to family about the decisions you have made and why.

Transferring a Person

Tips to help caregivers move or transfer a loved one with mobility limitations

  • Learn proper body mechanics. Ask for a Physical Therapy referral from your physician to teach you how to use your body so you don’t get hurt.
  • Save your back. If you feel a strain, get help; don’t do it alone. This is for your safety and the safety of the person you are trying to move. If you hurt your back, you aren’t going to be able to care for someone else.

Caregiver Self Care: Caring for You

The care you give to yourself is the care you give to your loved one.

  • Learn about the disease your loved on has.  Find out about what is happening now and what will happen in the future with this disease.  The more you know, the more you will be able to plan.
  • Use community resources.  The more you let these services help you, the less you have to do.  There are places to get help:
    • Your local Area Agency on Aging
    • Paratransit
    • Meals on Wheels
    • Day Care Programs

Feeding and Nutrition (for dementia)

  • Avoid food fights. Make mealtime as pleasant as possible. Encourage someone to eat but don’t demand, cajole or threaten.
  • Someone with dementia may not know what he/she wants to eat. If giving choices, give only two things to choose between. Even if a choice is made, the person may not want it when it is presented. Don’t take it personally. If you know his/her favorite foods, have them available for back up. Favorite foods might change.

I Lost My Job But I Cannot Leave Him to Get Another

My husband and I were watching a movie, sitting on couch on a Saturday night. He said he was tired as I got up and went to the kitchen. Then he said "I have a tremendous headache," then held his hand on the left side of his face, saying "my face feels numb, funny" . . . then his head fell back. I tried to talk to him. He was screaming "Oh no!" I called 911.

We Used to Love to Travel and Eat Out . . . Now, Nothing

My husband and I care for my grandma, age 94, with dementia. She moved in with us April 2013. I also go to another lady's home for one hour in the morning to get her showered, dressed and fed and for one hour in the evening for physical therapy and to get her into bed in the evening.

I Am in Dementia Prison with My Mom

My husband and I have been caring for my 92 year old mother for over five years. It has taken me almost that long to even  admit and verbalize that my mother has dementia. I always would just say that she was forgetful and then as time went on I added the word confused. In the last year she has also become anxious and panicky when we leave her home alone for a short period of time. Tonight, after I ran an errand for less than two hours, I returned to a frantic mother.

I Focused on Changing Myself Rather Than "Fixing" My Husband's Health

It was the beginning of 2013 and my husband and I hit rock bottom. Once again, another medication did not work. This was the 10th medication in 10 years my husband tried to relieve his chronic pain. He was depressed, angry, and began to talk about divorce. I was about to throw in the towel as well because I was experiencing caregiver burnout.


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