When In-Home Care May Not Be Enough
If your current care solution isn’t meeting your loved one’s needs, or is becoming too difficult for you, it’s time to explore different options. Oftentimes, different relationships or circumstances require a different approach. Below, we offer tips on discussing care concerns with your spouse or with a loved one.
Discussing care concerns with your spouse
As a caregiving spouse or partner, you understand your loved one's needs and wants better than anyone. You want to keep your spouse at home, but sometimes you have the frightening thought, “What if I can’t continue to do this?” These feelings are only natural and signal the need to discuss the future. While you and your spouse may both prefer in-home care, you may not be able to provide the level of care needed. Addressing these care needs early on will give you both peace of mind and the freedom to fully enjoy time together.
If appropriate, discuss your concerns with your spouse. It’s good to talk about the what-ifs, especially the toughest one: “What if care needs require a move to a facility?” As difficult as these Care Conversations™ may be, sharing what weighs on your heart will lessen feelings of loneliness or despair.
You and your spouse may want to keep your thoughts private or share them with your support group—friends, family members or care professionals. While it may be uncomfortable to talk about personal changes, discussing growing needs will ensure you both stay open to various care options and solutions. Your Area Agency on Aging, a source for programs, services and information specifically designed to help older adults and their families, can help you locate support groups in your community. To find an Area Agency on Aging, visit Eldercare Locator.
Discussing care concerns with your loved ones
Care Conversations aren’t just for people of a certain age. They’re for all of us—whether we’re in our 20s, 50s or 80s. Care Conversations give you more control over the future and better peace of mind.
If you’re unsure about how to bring up concerns, or what to say once you do, there are many resources to help you. The Complete ElderCare Planner, by Joy Loverde, helps caregivers anticipate and prepare for later-year events. Five Wishes helps you and your loved ones address important Care Conversations in times of serious illness.
Approaching the discussion as if you’re concerned about your own care needs, or those of a person close to you, may make things easier. For example, you might say, “I’m thinking about my future care needs. Could I get your opinion on a few things?” You could also bring up a person with changing needs and say, “What do you think about what’s happening?” or “What would you want done differently?” If you’re using the Five Wishes workbook, you can ask your loved one to complete it together with you.
Depending upon the circumstances, your conversation may take five minutes, or it may take five weeks. Discussing care needs with your loved one is a process that is most successful when allowed to unfold. The goal is to share information, understand preferences and discuss various care options.
During your discussions, try to capture specific information, such as:
- Does your loved one have a durable power of attorney or living will? If not, an elder law attorney can help create these documents. To find an elder law attorney in your community, visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
- What resources (personal resources, long term care insurance, etc) are available to pay for care?
- Where does your loved one bank? Who manages investments?
- Who is your loved one’s physician? What medications does your loved one take?
- Where does your loved one keep important paperwork and documents, such as a living will, durable power of attorney, and Social Security and Medicare cards?
- Where does your loved one wish to live?
- What care expectations does your loved one have?
You can also take the opportunity to learn more about your loved one’s life story. You can document memories in a journal, video or audio recording. Collect recipes, photos, letters, poems—anything that reflects your loved one’s life and personality. Heartfelt efforts can help personalize the discussions and put care decisions in the proper context—creating life’s next chapter.
If the time comes when care needs require a move away from home, Care Conversations can help you take the next step.