Preparing for a Backup Caregiver

When you are caring for a loved one, it can be a challenge to prioritize self-care.

Lori Ramos Cavallo

Most of us are aware of the need to "get plenty of rest, eat right and take me-time." However, organizing a care team and feeling comfortable leaving your loved one can feel like added pressure.

I found that taking the time to develop a care plan proved helpful in the long run. Thinking ahead and preparing for a backup caregiver can help ease some of the anxiety for you and your loved one and assure that things go smoothly while you are away.

Some reasons to have a pre-written care plan:

When you, the caregiver, get sick: When you don’t feel well, the last thing you have energy for is going over the entire care routine with a fill-in caregiver. This can cause you to hesitate asking for help, thus exposing yourself to a longer illness and potentially exposing your loved one to whatever you have.

Building a care team takes time: Whether paid or unpaid care, finding the right help is challenging. Cost and time may be an issue. A written care plan can save valuable time explaining the routine, leaving you more time for self-care or errands.

Self-Reminder: Your care plan can have built-in reminders, such as medication refills or special exercises, etc.

Emergencies: Having a care plan with emergency information and medications all in one place is handy to have in those times when emergency services are called or hospitalization is required.

What to include in a care plan:

  • Emergency contact information
  • Insurance information
  • Medication list (keep updated) and list refill dates as a self-reminder
  • Daily routine — Make your care plan personal to how you and your loved one spend your day:
  • List favorite foods
  • Outline your exercise routine for example, if you do range of motion before getting out of bed or if you have a special way to transfer to assure weight bearing on the affected foot.
  • Special activities — for example, we had a collage of family photos near my mom’s bed. She liked to stop there every morning to look at the pictures and touch the one of my dad. It was her way of saying good morning after he had passed away. Perhaps your survivor watches a certain TV show or takes a walk after breakfast.

In an effort to make developing a care plan a little easier, I have worked with American Stroke Association to develop the Daily Home Care Guide editable PDF available for download from the ASA website. Use it to build your care plan.

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.


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