IL Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Caring for Your Loved Ones


Caregiving for a loved one can be stressful and overwhelming. It can involve long hours, numerous doctor’s appointments, complicated medication regimens, helping with basic daily living activities and countless other tasks. And millions of Americans happily take on this important role.

These tips and resources can help you do the best job of caring for your loved ones.

Identifying stressors

In a 2015 AARP study, caregivers reported several challenges, including facing complex care situations, emotional stress and financial strain.

Communication was an issue, with caregivers expressing the need for more information on related topics, including how to keep their loved one safe and how to manage their own stress.

Help with costs

If your finances are strained due to caregiving responsibilities, help is available. Some organizations help patients with medical and care-related expenses. Eligibility, benefits, coverage and rules vary, so research your options. Here are just a few. Information and links to organizations that provide financial help with medications and other medical expenses. Created by the National Council on Aging, this tool helps people 55 and older find funding resources. A comprehensive list of organizations that help with a variety of expenses for cancer patients, although some of the listed organizations help those with other illnesses.

Reducing stress

Get as much help as possible, paid and unpaid. Don’t try to do this by yourself. Ask your community for help with non-caregiving tasks, such as meal preparation, errands and child care. Don’t worry—they want to help.

Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to friends and family. Chat on the phone. Ask for visitors. Ask your church, temple or local community center if they have a program for visiting the ill.

Join a support group, in person or online, to connect with other caregivers in the same situation. It can be comforting, and you may even learn some tips for patient care and stress reduction.

Don’t neglect to take care of your own physical needs. Get regular sleep and exercise, and maintain a healthy diet.

Make yourself a priority for a small part of each day. Whatever activity you love to do, do it. Take a bath, meditate, watch TV, read, listen to music, etc. And try to occasionally get out of the house for something fun.

Lastly, try to laugh every day. And don’t be afraid of a good cry. Both can relieve stress.

Improving care

Here are some steps to improve care.

• Take detailed notes at all appointments. Bring your notes, test results and medication lists to all appointments.

• Don’t assume your doctors have access to, or have read, reports from other doctors.

• Ask as many questions as you need to until you understand the information.

• Before a hospital discharge, make sure you understand all instructions and practice any new nursing tasks.—RC


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