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There is no one-size-fits-all family care situation. Every case has unique challenges and opportunities.

But despite the wide variety of circumstances, I’ve noticed 10 tips that will help you provide the best care possible for your loved one.

In this episode, I discuss the 10 tips and how to get the best care experience for your family’s individual needs.

Here Are The Show Highlights:

  • The essential legal documents you must have to protect your family from medical and financial harm (4:22)
  • How to take advantage of little-known financial resources available to help you safeguard your personal assets (8:31)
  • How to prevent cognitive decline in your family member (11:27)
  • The counterintuitive reason why your loved one is not the most important person you’re caring for (12:42)
  • Easily avoidable mistakes that destroy the health of family caregivers (and how to avoid them yourself) (13:50)

For daily 5-minute mind exercises, head over and like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hcafortworth/

You can also find additional support and resources by calling Home Care Assistance at 817-349-7599 or visit our websites https://www.homecareassistancefortworth.com/ and https://itsmyturntocare.com/.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “It’s My Turn To Care.” We know the challenges you face caring for someone with dementia. That's why each week we bring you tips, strategies, and most of all, support, as you navigate your role as caregiver. Let's get started. [00:15.6]

Dave: Hello. This is Dave parks. I'm a certified senior advisor and the owner of Home Care Assistance, and you are listening to It’s My Turn To Care: Secrets for the Dementia Caregiver. I am here to, hopefully, give you some tips and ideas, and things to think about, strategies, as you go through your journey, and we really want you to sur-thrive your journey. I think that's a new word I made up. I'm not sure. I'm going to have to call Webster dictionary to find out, but I really want to help you sur-thrive or survive your journey being a family caregiver. [01:02.2]

I’ve been doing a series on home care and the last two episodes have been on home care specifically, but today I want to talk about a family caregiver survival guide or, you could say, a family caregiver sur-thrival guide.

Every situation that we help the families with is unique. I mean, there's no one size fits all. I hear sometimes people say, We're going to move my mother into so-and-so community or we're going to go with this home care company, or whatever the case may be, and just because that works for one individual doesn't mean it's going to work for another. [01:55.8]

Let's say, you move someone into a community and because of your neighbor saying it was a great community, and your neighbor and your loved one maybe just different have different personalities or different tastes or different budgets, and so you’ve got to consider all those things.

Anyway, getting back to the sur-thrival guide, there are really what we've seen, 10 things that are very common, that if you do these 10 things, it really increases your chance of sur-thriving the journey of helping your loved one. Let's jump into it and let's look at what is number one.

Number one would be knowing your options. There are a lot of options out there, but there really is only one that is best for your situation. It's important to consider several options before making final decisions. [02:58.8]

Now, nine out of 10 people, studies have shown, want to age in place or stay in their home, but that's not necessarily for everyone. There are other options, certainly. Independent living, assisted living, memory care, residential care homes. You want to consider all your options. That's number one.

Number two is you need to get organized. There are several moving pieces when caring for a loved one, things like doctor's appointments, medications, living arrangements, dietary restrictions, medical equipment, legal documents, financial accounts, Medicare coverages, and on and on. You need to develop a system in order to keep things organized. That's number two. [03:57.7]

Number three is know your legal responsibilities, rights and all those necessary documents. There are several documents that you need in order to be able to assist your loved one in a lot of different ways, right? Things like do they have a will? Do you have a medical power of attorney, a financial power of attorney, advanced directives, a do-not-resuscitate order if that's applicable and all these different types of documents?

What happens if they are diagnosed with dementia? What legal rights do you have? Do you have the documents in place, so you can assist your loved one? We actually are going to do an episode on just legal issues that you need to maneuver through. That's number three.

Number one was to know your options. Number two is get organized, and number three is know your legal responsibilities, rights and all those necessary documents. [05:10.5]

Okay, so number four is the need to find someone who is knowledgeable and trustworthy. No one is going to know all the answers, right? No one is going to understand the whole legal, financial, home health, hospice, home care, different living arrangements. No one is going to be an expert in all of those areas. But you want to talk to someone that has been recognized as a leader in the industry, right?

For example, our agency is a certified A+ agency with the Home Care Standards Board, and we're also rated in the top, they say, approximately 10 percent of the agencies in the nation by home care polls. [06:03.3]

You just want to make sure there's some credentialing around who you consult with, and it may be an attorney or it may be a financial advisor. Look for the certified senior advisor credential, things of that nature. You just want to find someone that you can trust, someone that maybe is in the industry that can refer you to someone, or you can look at their website. What kind of Google reviews do they have? Again, find someone who you can trust. That's number four.

Number five is only to accept the best for your loved one. You can have many options, but don't settle for less than the best. Okay, we only refer, for example, our clients, friends, and family, we only refer them to people that we would use ourselves in caring for our parents. [07:00.2]

My wife and I own this agency, and one of the reasons we got into the agency or into the senior industry was because we observed that the quality of care wasn't at the level that it really needed to be. So, then our partners that we work with, we make sure that they're of high quality as well. Only accept the best and a lot of times that means that you may hire someone to help care for your loved one and maybe they end up being in a community, or they're having home care or home health, but it does or it still requires some level of involvement, particularly at the beginning, while you're building a relationship with that provider, and then you'll develop a level of trust and then your involvement, hopefully, won't be as heavy.

But it's important to, like Ronald Reagan used to say, to trust but verify, right? You may trust someone, but particularly at the beginning, you want to see evidence of that trust. That's number five, only accept the best for your loved one. [08:11.9]

Okay, so moving on to number six: understand how to maximize all available financial resources, and this could be depending on the type of care that you have.

If it's nonmedical care, you can look at things like the VA has a great benefit for those that have some military history and there are some other requirements.

There's long-term care insurance. A lot of people, children of parents that are suffering from dementia don't realize they have long-term care insurance, so that's something that you want to make sure you maximize. Talk to your financial advisor or get a financial advisor to help you on leveraging your assets to help pay for care. There's just a lot of things to think about in that regard. [09:12.3]

You also need, as it relates to a financial plan for care, and whether this be for your parents or whether it be for yourself, think about, Are we prepared for that 20 years from now, 30 years from now, 40 years from now? Make sure you're planning for that.

The next thing, and we're going to have an episode on this coming up, is to understand Medicare, Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage. Now, this episode will be coming in October, I believe, and so we'll be in the middle of enrollment. It's important, things like you have Medicare Part A, B, C, and D. How does this compare to a Medicare Advantage? Do I need a Medicare Supplement Plan? How much does it cost? Can I change plans? [10:08.7]

It's important to understand all that, particularly as it relates to the medical side of care. That's number seven.

Number eight is really trying to find a support team that works together. If you're feeling overwhelmed, you're not alone, so finding a team that works together to help kind of ease that overwhelming feeling, and a lot of providers in our industry will help you do that. Right? We'll help you find an attorney if you need one or a financial advisor, or a home health or a hospice, or get you in touch with the right people at the Alzheimer's Association. Maybe you need some counseling. So, look to someone that can help you put that team together. That's number eight. [11:02.6]

Number nine is make sure that you address cognitive health. Even if your loved one is in good cognitive health, make sure that they are [active]. The things that help cognitive health are staying active socially, exercising regularly and eating some brain-healthy foods, and they need to participate in stimulating cognitive activity.

If they are in cognitive decline, a lot of the same concepts apply and there are studies that show that keeping the brain active may slow down some of that cognitive decline. We provide a lot of those programs here at Home Care Assistance, but if you're not using home care, then look to see if you can keep your loved one socially active, doing things that stimulate their mind, because it has such a big part of their quality of life. [12:11.1]

Last but certainly not least is take care of yourself. I've come up with these and I think I’ve got them from may have been the Alzheimer's Association, but really six things that you can do to help prevent caregiver burnout.

The one is don't hide your feelings from yourself. Don't try to convince yourself that you have it all under control, right? Just be honest with you.

Set realistic goals. Don't try to conquer the world every day and don't engage in negative self-talk. Don't be so hard on yourself. Let's say, you wanted to do the laundry, prepare a meal, go for a walk and talk to discuss care with your provider, all in one day, and you didn't get to all those things. Don't be so hard on yourself if you don't. [13:14.8]

There are some stress management techniques that you can do from breathing to social reminiscence. Look for things that will help you reduce your stress.

You also need to really maintain your own health. Make sure you're going to your doctor visits. Make sure that you're taking your medications as directed by your physician, that you're eating well, that you're exercising, that you're getting enough sleep.

Then, get your support team in place early. One of the things that we've talked about before on this program is, as you go through this journey, people are going to ask how they can help, so be ready for that question, because I think a lot of people want to help. They just don't know how. If you can be ready for that question, then I think you'll find a lot of eager folks that want to help you. [14:14.6]

Let me summarize. We have this. I’ve created this family caregiver sur-thrival guide. The 10 must-do's are know your options, get organized, know your legal responsibilities, find someone who is knowledgeable and trustworthy, only accept the best, understand how to maximize all available financial resources, understand the Medicare environment, find a support team that will work together for you, address cognitive health, and take care of yourself. I think if you do those things, it's definitely going to increase your chances of being successful as a family caregiver. [15:04.7]

I really appreciate you listening and this is Dave Parks with It’s My Turn To Care: Secrets for the Dementia Caregiver. We always encourage you to visit our website, HomeCareAssistanceFortWorth.com, and call our office at (817) 349-7599. On our website, you can find this family caregiver survival guide.
We appreciate you listening and we will talk to you again next week.

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