Carol Marak at has ideas on caregiver planning

By Carol Marak - Aging Matters

American families are ethnically, economically, religiously, and in many other ways more diverse, and their experiences and the adults they care for are just as widely varied. For some, caregiving instills purpose, confidence, compassion, and creates close-knit relationships. For others, caregiving takes a stressful toll and creates emotional distress, depression, anxiety, poor health, chronic illness, or social isolation. But in most cases, it’s a blend.

Help and interventions should help mitigate risks, needs, and choices. Caregiving assistance should begin with an assessment and then education and skill training. Access to support and services like counseling, respite care, relaxation training is ideal and would set the roles and tasks on better footing because the job is best done when caregivers are proactive.

However, when starting out with any new role, we don’t know where to begin. For assistance, I asked the Aging Council to suggest ways a family caregiver can be proactive when giving care?

“Part of the answer is to have discussions with siblings and others about the needs of a loved one before they become acute. This way everyone is on the same page and that facilitates communication later.”

“Create a schedule of visits, shop online for products and have auto-delivery, set up a post-care information system, and set-up family roles.

“Learn about the loved one’s disease, your self-care needs, learn caregiving skills like transferring a patient from bed to chair. Keep all family members in the loop, and take breaks away from giving.” Donna Schempp, Advocate

“Talk about wishes, practicalities, plans well before the time of need. Explore options and find help early on before a crisis. Bring in a care manager for help with family meetings, managing conflicts, or finding solutions.”

“Use smartphone calendar alerts to keep all appointments and reminders and things needing to be done and build a strong network of support.”

“Have the “S” (senior) talk with loved ones. Find out what their wants and wishes are as they grow older. Better understand their current legal documents like wills and directives and see if they need to be updated. Fill out the 5 wishes document.”

This includes setting up a health care proxy, completing as trust or will, determining who your power of attorney is, and completing the Five Wishes program which is a legal document that determines your wishes when you pass away.

Find advocacy and support groups to depend on, communicate needs with family, friends and religious community, and exercise and sleep.”

“Research expert resources like, including technology and transportation services, and in-home care options. Ask for support and talk with family members early on about how they can assist.”

By Carol Marak

Aging Matters

Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.