A caregiver plan helps at any stage
No matter where you are in the caregiving journey, it’s never too late to create a plan.
Avoiding it until there’s a big problem can make a tough situation worse. Planning ahead means having more time to make decisions and being proactive instead of reactive.
A caregiver plan helps reduce problems with older adults and family members, removes uncertainty, and minimizes last-minute scrambling for solutions. It can also help reduce the financial strain.
We found a helpful free guide from AARP that takes you through 5 steps to create a caregiver plan. It also includes helpful checklists and excellent resource recommendations.
Use AARP’s guide to create a caregiver plan
AARP has a handy guide that helps families discuss and create a plan for caregiving. It’s called Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families.
The guide breaks things down into 5 steps to make it more manageable. The sections include information on how to get started, questions to ask, and where to find helpful resources.
Here’s an overview of the 5 steps outlined in the AARP guide.
STEP 1 – Prepare to Talk
It’s tough to talk with an older adult about a decline in their abilities or the need for additional help. It’s not something you want to bring up without preparation.
Step 1 helps you think through important questions and plan your approach. It has key questions to ask yourself, a checklist to understand their goals for the future, and 10 tips for approaching a difficult topic.
The advance thought and planning will make the discussion more successful and reduce your older adult’s defensiveness.
STEP 2 – Form Your Team
The second step advises you on forming your caregiving team and how to keep the planning process moving forward.
It might not be realistic for everyone’s situation, but AARP recommends including the whole family in caregiving discussions — even those who are difficult or argumentative. Their thinking is that those family members may become even more difficult in the future if they’re left out of the initial discussions.
STEP 3 – Assess Needs
In the third step, the guide helps you understand your older adult’s needs and gather information. Here’s where you’ll find the bulk of the checklists and information about benefits programs and caregivers resources.
Useful checklists walk through the activities of daily living, help locate important personal information and documents, and give an overall picture of your older adult’s needs.
This section also includes helpful information about public benefits programs for seniors. Page 22 has an easy-to-read chart that summarizes the benefits offered by programs like Social Security, Medicare, etc.
The information about caregiving resources on pages 24 and 25 is especially helpful. Included are national and local resources that help with housing, health, transportation, and financial matters.
STEP 4 – Make a Plan
Nobody can plan for every possibility, but having the basics covered will significantly reduce stress and uncertainty for everyone.
Step 4 shares advice on how to have a successful planning meeting with your older adult and family. Key tips include writing brief notes about what was discussed, who is responsible for what, and a summary of the care plan.
A brief example care plan is included on page 28.
STEP 5 – Take Action
Creating a care plan is a challenging exercise, but one that will be worth it when life gets complicated. In step 5, AARP shares tips on how to be flexible and update the caregiving plan as things change.