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Caregiver illness

Planning for the unexpected

No one ever expects to get sick. And for most of us, a common cold or flu – while inconvenient – won’t cause significant problems. But if you’re caring for an elderly parent with a weakened immune system, exposing them to even the most basic illness can be dangerous. It’s better to stay away for a time then to risk their health.

That’s why it’s vital to think about who might care for your parent if you develop a serious illness or hurt yourself in an accident. Although you may be managing your parent’s care well now, it is important that you have a back-up plan ready just in case you ever become sick or injured.

Get organized

If someone had to come in suddenly and carry out your care plan – including meals, medications and doctor’s appointments – could they? Write everything down, and date any changes as they occur. That way, a temporary caregiver has a written program from which to work. Also, be sure your caregiver notes are clearly labeled and easily accessible. Some vital information to include is:

  • Names and contact information for all care providers
  • Emergency contact information of key family members
  • A list of all medications, location in the house, dosages and directions for use
  • Any allergies, special diets or chronic conditions that need to be monitored
  • Regular appointments (such as a weekly rehabilitation sessions) – when and where
  • Copies of you parent’s advance directives, including a healthcare power of attorney and do not resuscitate order, and will
  • A list of all insurance providers (private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid), along with policy numbers, co-pays, deductibles, range of services, etc.
Designate a replacement

If your parent has named you as their healthcare power of attorney, you need to be sure they have also identified a back-up, just in case. Additionally, the back-up must be listed in the legal documentation to ensure they have the authority to make critical decisions, if needed.

Get the pros on standby

While you may be accustomed to providing a high level of care to your parent, your designated replacement may not be as comfortable or able to do so. To be on the safe side, interview potential home health care agencies now. That way, if additional help is needed, the groundwork is already in place. These professional caregivers can also be helpful in the event you ever need to leave town for work or want to take a brief vacation.