By Margery Pabst
Planning used to be one of those words that
felt stale and musty, like an old book or basement. Years ago, I taught
Planning and Organizing to corporate leaders; it was one of those
necessary subjects that was called a “yawner.” However, planning for the
future seems to have gained a vitality and relevance, maybe because so
many of us are turning 65! Everywhere we look, encouragement for
retirement planning, investment planning, and education planning is
stressed. Planning for caregiving needs should be a priority too. As we consider our own aging and caring for others, planning for caregiving is key.
A Pew Research Center study from 2006 called “Families Drawn Together by
Communications Revolution” found that families feel very obligated to
provide both financial and caregiving expertise when a family member
needs the help.
Details from this study show the following
percentages of family members saying they felt “very obligated” to
provide financial assistance and care to their:
Parent: 83 percent
Grown child: 77 percent
Grandparent: 67 percent
Brother or sister: 64 percent
Spouse: 62 percent
Stepparent: 55 percent
Step-or half-sibling: 43 percent
So what do these statistics imply about our
personal sense of well-being? The concern and obligation we feel
increases our anxiety for our families’ long term welfare. Planning for
both the caregiving needs of ourselves and others can reduce anxiety and
increase our sense of well-being. Planning often results in a higher
quality of life for us and for our families, because financial and
logistical preparations can be made far ahead of the time you or a loved
one needs care. Here are some questions to encourage your planning:
-What do I want my personal caregiving to look like? For example, what kinds of people do I want providing my care? What interests, skills, and values do I want them to have?
My Example: I like to read and go to the
theatre, so my plan includes having like-minded people who will read to
me, take me to the theatre, etc.
-Where do I want to be cared for?
At home? In an assisted living or long term care facility? Have I
thought about what will be required as time goes on and if I live to a
ripe old age?
My Example: I want to be at home and have planned for the day when
others will live with me and care for me. I need to research other
options like long term care facilities.
-What financial plan do I have to support my wishes?
My Example: I have reviewed my finances and realize I will need
additional resources in order to stay in my home for the rest of my
-Have I discussed my planning with my family? Have I taken their thoughts into consideration?
My Example: No, I need to have that conversation.
Another benefit of planning is that we may expose misguided assumptions
about all the options. For example, the prospect of living in a long
term care facility may conjure up all negatives, but after examining
options, the reality can reveal that not all long term care facilities
That all important family conversation
should be done sooner rather than later. Answering these four questions
builds our awareness about the conversation and the content we need to
cover. As indicated by my example, I need to have the family meeting
I find that when I’ve done some planning for
anything in my life, my life is more calm and collected; I experience
less anxiety. Planning is certainly one key way to care for yourself during caregiving.
Read more about caregiving-related issues here.
Pabst is eCareDiary’s caregiving expert and the co-author of Enrich
Your Caregiving Journey. Margery is the host of eCareDiary’s
BlogTalkRadio show, “Caregiver and Physician Conversations” and answers
your questions on the “Expert Q/A” section of the site. You can access
Margery Pabst’s information on www.pivotalcrossings.com.
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