Primary Caregivers

A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

I have the right . . .

  • To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capacity to take better care of my relative.
     
  • To seek help from others even though my relative may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
     
  • To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things for myself.
     

Legal Planning for Incapacity

As you face aging and the need to make plans for your future, you face having to make legal decisions about many aspects of your lives. These legal decisions not only protect you from others doing things you might not like to you, 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.

 

Finding an Attorney to Help with Estate Planning

Before you or a loved one is faced with a life-limiting illness or cognitive impairment, it is important to have completed the legal paperwork necessary for estate planning.

Conservatorship and Guardianship

When someone is no longer able to handle his or her own financial or personal affairs, the court can appoint an individual or professional to act on behalf of the incapacitated person. When a minor child is involved, it is generally called a guardianship. When an adult needs someone, it is called a conservatorship. However, states define these terms differently, and you need to consult an attorney in your state to determine what the law are and how they impact your situation.

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 cannot 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 End-of-Life 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 for 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.

Keep these simple steps and strategies in mind to ensure that you as a caregiver find time and resources to take care of yourself.

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.
     

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