NAPLES, Florida — According to AgingCare.com’s 2016 Care Plan Survey, 51% of caregivers report having no care plan to help them manage their responsibilities. Of those who had a plan in place, nearly 41% reported having no assistance from family members, friends, elder care professionals, or services such as in-home care or adult day care to execute it. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority (75.25%) of caregivers reported that they felt their care plans could be improved.
“The goal of this survey was to shed light on the millions of family caregivers who have inadequate outside support and could use a tool to help them organize all aspects of their loved ones’ care,” said Christina Hardy, Vice President of AgingCare.com.
With approximately 34.2 million Americans providing unpaid care for aging loved ones1, it is crucial to spread awareness of valuable care tools and techniques that family caregivers can implement themselves.
The Case for Care Plans
The first step to creating an efficient care plan is conducting a comprehensive assessment to determine the specific areas of daily life that the patient needs help with and the extent of help they require. Once their needs have been evaluated, the caregiver can efficiently organize their duties in order to lend their complete focus to one task at a time, which improves the patient’s quality of care and reduces the likelihood of any mishaps. Professional caregivers and agencies use care plans to ensure that their patients’ needs are met with timely, high-quality responses.
Family caregivers can utilize the same strategy to provide superior care for a loved one. In addition to the benefits described above, a properly constructed care plan will also enable family caregivers to factor in adequate respite time and form a cohesive team to help them in their endeavors. This team can include family members and friends as well as elder care experts like geriatric care managers, elder law attorneys, paid caregivers, and social workers. All of these elements contribute to a sustainable long-term plan that will help prevent caregiver burnout and ensure that each patient receives the level care he or she deserves.
A Tool for Success
In light of family caregivers’ lack of formal organization, AgingCare.com has created a customizable Care Plan Guide that will help them better manage their countless responsibilities.
“This detailed template will enable family members to systematically take inventory of their loved ones’ needs and preferences so that nothing is overlooked,” said Ashley Huntsberry-Lett, Editor in Chief of AgingCare.com. “There are so many factors to take into account that both new and veteran caregivers alike can benefit from using this guide to review or enhance their current care strategy.”
The Care Plan Guide includes advice for discussing future plans with a loved one, ideas for who to include on a care team, a home safety checklist, a health care assessment, and an inventory list to assist caregivers with keeping track of important medical, legal, and financial documents.
“Existing carers should realize that without a plan their day has no structure,” said Jude, an AgingCare.com member and the sole caregiver for her mother with mixed dementia. It is also vital for primary caregivers and their care team members to realize that a loved one’s level of care and ability can change very quickly. The earlier a family gets organized, the better prepared they will be for the future.
Ken, another AgingCare.com member, has been the primary caregiver for his wife with normal pressure hydrocephalus for 13 years. “Ours is a carefully documented plan of action that most members of our care team can follow in case something happens to me,” said Ken. This is yet another critical aspect of having a well-rounded plan and team in place.
Support is Available
Family caregivers often feel that the responsibility for their loved one’s care should fall solely on their shoulders. While such selfless dedication is admirable, this approach to caregiving can quickly lead to exhaustion, anxiety and total burnout. Sound guidance, moral support and an extra set of hands to pitch in from time to time are essential for a caregiver’s physical and emotional wellbeing and, by extension, their care recipient’s welfare. Support groups, respite care, and elder care experts can all participate in strengthening and executing a family’s care plan, but they have to be willing to seek out this help. For additional information on all of these issues and resources, visit www.AgingCare.com.
AgingCare.com is the leading resource for family caregivers who are seeking trusted information, one-on-one support, and practical answers to real-life questions. Our community consists of elder care experts, medical professionals and family caregivers who gather to share their experiences and expertise on all topics related to senior care. Our mission is to help families plan for and navigate the care of an aging parent, spouse, or other loved one. AgingCare.com also assists families in finding home care services and senior living arrangements. This service is provided free of charge. For more information, please visit www.AgingCare.com.
The 2016 Care Plan Survey was conducted online January 14, 2016 through February 12, 2016. More than 1,000 people caring for an aging loved one participated in the survey.
1 According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute’s Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 report.
Editor in Chief