If you’re a single parent or a caregiver for an elderly or unwell relative, you have enormous and at times overwhelming responsibilities. Providing care for a family member is an act of kindness, loyalty, devotion, and love. You manage not only your own life, but the important details of the life of a loved one. As a caregiver, you are often the sole keeper of a huge store of essential information.
With all that you do, it’s very unlikely that you’ve taken the time to document it. After all, you already know what kinds of medications your loved one needs, the dosages, and the names and numbers of their doctors. It may be second nature to you.
But what if something were to happen? If someone needed to step in and provide the care that you’ve been giving, would they be able to take over your duties? If you take a moment and think about all that you handle as advocate and caregiver, you can see what an important job it is and how much information is involved.
No one wants to consider what would happen in the event that they are no longer around. But there is so much peace of mind in knowing that you have put things in order so that your loved ones are cared for, no matter what happens. Taking a moment to consider writing down the following:
1. Name(s) of Those Whose Care You Manage
Of course, this is obvious to you and those in your immediate circles. However, if you aren’t around, it’s not wise to leave it to chance that someone will figure out who it is that depends on you for care.
2. Names of Guardians
You or your loved ones may have designated guardians you or they wish to have as a part of their advisory team in the event that you are unable to make decisions for them. Make sure their names and contact information are easily identifiable and accessible.
3. Physicians and Their Specialties
Although you may have developed a friendly relationship with the doctors and staff who care for your loved ones, that is information another person would need if you were unavailable to answer questions. Names, specialties, office numbers – make sure it’s all listed somewhere.
4. Location of Living Wills, Medical Documents, and Other Important Papers
Perhaps the person you care for has a designated power of attorney or a living will. Where are those papers kept? Would it be easy for someone to try to find them without your help?
5. Any Special Care Instructions
The relationship between a caregiver or parent and those they care for is extraordinarily intimate and often involves unspoken understandings. So you may be the only one who knows the kinds of things that are important to the person you care for. Perhaps your elderly relative likes her bath water very warm. Or you may be the only person who knows that the best time to have a clear, productive conversation with your mother is first thing in the morning. Maybe your child strongly dislikes certain sounds or textures. If your elderly father needs assistance getting from his chair to the table, is he able to communicate that?
Just as no two people are alike, no two caregiving jobs are alike. Some seniors are suffering from memory loss, while others are sharp as a tack yet struggle to get around. And children have long lists of needs and preferences they may be unable to express. It’s a lot to manage!
Give yourself the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’ve made it easy for someone else to step in in the event that you are not able, even if only temporarily. The book Cell Phones Don’t Work in Heaven provides a simple and straightforward way to organize and document all that you do. Don’t wait. Buy the book today.