Your Personalized Caregiving Plan - Part 2

Margery Pabst - March 18, 2013 10:37 AM

Back in January, I wrote an initial blog on how to develop a caregiving plan for yourself. You can reference that blog both on or on my website at The article received a lot of positive feedback, so I enlisted the support of Heidi Isenhart, an elder law attorney, to be my guest on “Caregivers Speak!” this month; Heidi provided an expanded set of reasons to develop your care plan now and how to integrate legal issues as well. We also discussed and listed the benefits of planning.

So this blog is part summary and part some new thoughts about your caregiving plan to consider. In January, points regarding WHO, WHERE, WHAT, and HOW were considered:

WHO Who do you want as a caregiver, their values, strengths, inclinations, hobbies?

WHERE Where would you really like to reside as you're cared for?

WHAT What would you like to do to fill your days?

HOW How will you make decisions about your care? How will you direct others?

During our interview, Heidi explained the legal documents that support all of these decisions; she grouped these decisions into “personal” and “property” decisions:

“Personal” decision documents/questions are:

-Who will be your health care surrogate?

-What directives will you include in your living will?

-Will you include a “Do Not Resuscitate Order”?

-Will you designate a Preneed Guardian of your person?

-Do you want a Uniform Donor Declaration?

Most of these personal decision documents relate to the WHO and the WHAT of your plan.

“Property” decision documents/questions are:

-Who will be your durable power of attorney (during life)?

-Who will be your preneed guardian of the property (during life if legally incapacitated)?

-Who will be the trustee of your trust (during life and at death)?

-Who will be your personal representative/executor of your will?

In and around this list, you have full control to make the decisions you want to make.

Heidi noted that there is no “boilerplate” or uniform way you have to conform to. In fact, your plan is your plan!

Note that all of these “property” decisions are about the WHO of your plan, so choosing the right people is key to the fulfillment of your wishes during your lifetime and after.

This point takes us back to the importance of identifying people who share your values, who will honor your wishes, and who will ensure the long term goals are met.

Heidi also identified that WHERE an individual resides is one that is not treated in the law, so it's critical that you determine what type of home, facility, etc. is best for your personal care when you need it. Ensuring that you have your wishes in writing as to your choice is important.

What are some key points about your planning?

-Remember it is YOUR PLAN. Be as specific as possible by indicating exactly HOW you want your surroundings, your food, your recreation to be handled.

-Advocate for yourself and do not be afraid. If an attorney or doctor won't take time for you to make specific instructions not in a standard form, hire another professional!

-You can change your mind as often as you want about any or all of the items in your caregiving plan and documents.

-Share the existence of your plan with trusted individuals. (family, friends, professionals)

Heidi and I plan to discuss “Tapping Into Your Values” on a future show. At that time, we will dig deeper into how to get in touch with your values and how to find those important, trusted individuals in your life.

Margery Pabst is eCareDiary's caregiving expert; she is the host of both “Caregiver and Physician Conversations” and “Caregivers Speak!”, two radio shows sponsored by Look for both of Margery's books on caregiving, “Enrich Your Caregiving Journey” and her most recent book, “Words of Care”. Both can be found on, and

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