Where do I start when making plans for long-term care?
A change in one’s health can happen at any point of life, which is why it is so important to understand long-term care and how to better prepare for unexpected or future situations. The reality is healthcare has many unplanned variables and it is better to research options and understand what is available to you before the aging process begins. Most importantly, identify the quality of life you want to have so family and other caregivers can provide you with the best environment to implement your care plan.
Home health is a great option for defining a care plan and working with skilled medical professionals to establish a safe and accommodating environment. The concept of “bringing the hospital home to you” positions care in a new way where patients feel supported and respected in the comfort of their own home. By establishing the right environment, a patient is able to accomplish their health and wellness goals while at the same time maintaining their identity and independence.
From the perspective of a caregiver, it can be burdensome and/or challenging to navigate a new role where you are solely responsible for a family member or friend’s care. Home health provides the perfect blend of medical support resources with simple solutions. And if you are finding yourself in this new position, it’s best to start having conversations early to establish transparency. The goal of long-term care is to define a lifestyle that meets the wants and needs of the person you are caring for.
Collaboration is a major proponent to having a successful long-term care plan. Caregivers are the liaison for their family member or friend and it is their responsibility to work with medical professionals, legal representatives and other resources in a unified manner. When all agencies work collaboratively, the patient stands to benefit.
Supporting your family member or friend means respecting their decisions and ideas of what they want now and in the future. The role of a caregiver is not to decide what they think the family member needs but to implement the wishes of that family member. Putting personal opinion aside and valuing how your family member or friend wants to live will support the progress of the long-term care plan.
Communication should remain consistent among all involved and serve as the foundation to making your care plan sustainable. For the safety of the person being cared for, it’s important for all agencies to be aware of how the patient is being treated by opening the lines of communication. Skilled Home Health professionals are the perfect conduit to the equation because they serve as the unbiased spokesperson who can manage all components of a patient’s care.
Be realistic about the plan of care you are implementing. Although these may not have been your recommendations, it’s important to remember the established goals. Long-term care planning and implemention is challenging and no day is ever the same. One has to be realistic about expectations and know there is always opportunity to learn and grow in this new role.
Additionally, if you are not comfortable being a caregiver it is OK to admit this reality. Support can be offered in a variety of ways.
On the contrary, you may be a caregiver now but roles can and will reverse and you will become the cared for. It is all too common that a patient lets their disease or ailment define them rather than developing a lifestyle that is comfortable and manageable. Aging is part of life and determining early on how we want to age can drastically improve quality of life and care.
Document planning is immensely important to the long-term planning process. Make sure you work with medical, legal, family and other representatives to clearly define how you want to be cared for during the aging process. This component of your plan is probably the most important. It sets the tone for how your care is delivered and establishes safe health care practices.
Look at independence in a different light and understand that some change needs to occur in order to accommodate your new lifestyle. Your independence is not being taken away; rather it is being enhanced by support services such as your family members, skilled Home Health and other medical professionals. This stage in your life is about fulfillment and living comfortably.
Define the life you want with early planning a goal setting. Part of maintaining independence and establishing trust is being part of the decision-making process. Whether you are pre-planning or developing a care plan to use now, remain active and diligent.
Support the plan you created by showing trust among those you are allowing to be your caregivers. This is a hard concept for many patients because they often feel overwhelmed by change and the trust they have to give to a new person. The most importance advice is to know that you can transfer your former role of “doing it all” by allowing your support team to help initiate your wishes.
Whether you are in a support role for a family member or friend or you are transitioning into the cared-for role, understanding long-term care planning can be a great benefit. Planning for the aging process does not have to be burdensome and complex but those involved should quickly identify their role and expectations.
Steve Estipona is director of Saint Mary’s Home Care. Contact him at call 775-770-3046 or through saintmarysreno.com/homecare.
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