Anticipating and Preparing for Home Care

Discussing a loved one’s potential health problems and the aging process isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do, yet these things need to be addressed – especially if you have elderly parents or a spouse with health concerns. Having early conversations about the possible need for home care before it becomes an urgent matter can help reduce the likelihood of a future family conflict and increase the likelihood you’ll be able to meet your loved one’s preferences.

Although there is often an emphasis on the changing relationship between a family caregiver and their aging or ailing loved one, it’s also important to be attentive to other family relationships. In addition to your siblings, your other parent (or perhaps a step-parent) should be involved, which adds another person’s valuable opinion into the mix.

The following tips can be helpful for all families, but are especially useful for those who have an aging parent or a family member with a serious health condition such as Alzheimer’s disease, another form of dementia, stroke or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) – even if they haven’t reached the stage where they need in-home care services quite yet.

Download our checklist for planning ahead for home care and more.

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Planning Ahead for Home Care Checklist

Whether you’re preparing to immediately hire someone for in-home care services or are anticipating a future need, there are steps you can take to make the process go more smoothly. The following checklist weaves together the emotional and practical aspects of setting your family up for a positive home care experience.

1. Agree upon the role each person will play.

These roles could include one person in charge of finances, another in charge of communication with healthcare providers and medical decisions, and a different family member could be responsible for home maintenance, etc.

While siblings in some families naturally fall into certain roles, that doesn’t always happen. In addition, stressful situations can cause deep emotions to bubble up to the surface. That’s why it’s important to remember your “why” – the parent you love – so you can move past any potential petty grievances. Be sure to include your loved one’s current spouse in conversations.

2. Look for signs of mental, physical or emotional decline. 

As your parents age or a loved one is diagnosed with a serious condition, it’s smart to keep an eye out for behaviors or challenges that could indicate a forthcoming need for support.

However, it’s important to not overreact, keeping in mind that one day of confusion or a few physical struggles doesn’t mean someone is experiencing cognitive issues or losing mobility. We all have “off” days. It’s more effective to watch for patterns of behavior and personality changes, as well as fluctuations in their physical abilities (unsteady walking, worsening vision or hearing challenges, etc.).

3. Discuss your family member’s preferences for home care and other assistance they may need in the future. 

It’s important to understand what their goals are while day-to-day life is relatively stable. Keep in mind that this isn’t a one-time chat; it’s an ongoing dialogue to ensure that you remain in tune with your loved one’s wants and needs.

Although some people will need In-Home Therapies or Skilled Services from a Registered Nurse such as IV infusions, wound care or catheter maintenance,* others will only require Personal Care, Companion Care, Transitional Care or Respite Care.

One of the most difficult conversations is about end-of-life decisions. Most people have strong feelings about how long they would want to be on life support, as well as the which life-extending measures they would be comfortable receiving. These discussions can be very challenging, especially when some family members have strong feelings about not wanting to “let go” of their loved one and others not wanting to watch them suffer. Any way you look at it, this is a hard topic – but honoring your loved one’s desires is the ultimate show of respect.

4. Gather key information or request access to essential health and financial information.

When you’re worried about a loved one’s urgent medical situation or they’re in the midst of a rapid decline in function, you want to be able to focus on them instead of spending your days searching for documents and account details. This checklist can help you prepare:**

  • Wills and codicils, as well as contact information for their attorney(s) 
  • Safe deposit box locations, numbers and an extra key
  • Banking and investment details,  (put account numbers, usernames and passwords in a separate place)
  • Pension(s), annuities or other retirement income, with contact information (list security details elsewhere)
  • Find out if they have an estate plan in place and ask to join them at a meeting with their financial planner or advisor; list contact information
  • Insurance policies and agent details; be sure to ask about Long-Term Care  insurance (LTCi)
  • Ask about getting Financial Power of Attorney (POA) for each parent (they may already have it established with their spouse, but this might be a good time to switch it to the adult child who will handle financial decisions)
  • List of all medical providers, pharmacies other providers, along with any key contact people
  • Medical records; physical copies or logins to patient portals (put login information someplace safe)
  • Ask about getting Medical Power of Attorney (POA) for each parent (even if they have it set up for their spouse, this might be a good time to switch it to an adult child); this will typically provide the individual with access to their loved one’s medical records as a “personal representative” with the ability to make decisions on their behalf
  • Ask if they have an Advanced Directive, which is a set of instructions regarding medical treatment and end-of-life health care preferences, including a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order (some states refer to it as a DNAR, AND or no-code)

Preparing a Home Care Plan with BrightStar Care

We know this is a lot of information to absorb, but we’re here to help. Consider discussing your family situation with your local BrightStar Care agency ahead of time. This can be especially helpful if family members are scattered and your parents don’t have any adult children living near them.

Your local agency can get to know your family prior to any imminent home care needs so they have relationships established. If you're ready to see how home care can help your loved one, please call to schedule a no-obligation in-home visit with your local Director of Nursing.

If you would like to learn more about in-home care, please send us a message, reach out to your nearest BrightStar® Home Care agency or return to the beginning of our online Home Care Guide.

NOTE: This information is provided as a general overview of financial and medical issues to consider. It is not intended to be advice. Every family’s situation is unique, so you should consult your own attorney, financial advisor and tax professional to determine the most appropriate approach for your needs.