I remember sitting alone with my mother in her hospital room after a major surgery and doing what I could to help. During one groggy semi-conscious moment, she said “I never thought you’d be any good at this”. I think she was saying she thought I was doing a good job and she was surprised. I didn’t feel as if I was doing a good job. I felt lost and I felt stressed. I was an accidental caregiver. I think a lot of caregivers find themselves in unexpected situations, doing things for which they feel unprepared. I tried to hold on to what I knew: being there, keeping my eyes and ear open, and being as caring as possible.
That was more than twenty years ago, and since then, I’ve been educating the caregivers community in the Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Chapel Hill areas on the legal issues they might encounter in serving as a caregiver. Clarity Legal Group® has been a presenting sponsor of the Triangle Caregivers Summit the last two years, and my colleague Jonathan Williams and I will be speaking this week (on Tuesday) at the Raleigh Caregivers Summit at the McKimmon Center on the topic “Twelve Do’s and Don’ts for Medicaid Eligibility in North Carolina”.
The legal issues are important but are far from the only issues. Last year, Jonathan and I began working with the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and my friends Robert Armstrong and Sandy Fisch at the Academy on putting together something which would not only be educational but a true practical resource for those who find themselves in the position of accidental caregiver. We have published a book — The Ultimate Caregiver Guide — and created numerous practical charts and worksheets, to assist those in a care giving role. These resources won’t make things easy, but they are a valuable start.
The Stress of the Caregiver
Being a caregiver can sometimes feel life a full-time job, and often one for which you have no training or preparation. The Ultimate Caregiver Guide is intended to provide make it a little easier for the caregiver to do the things they are naturally prepared to do:
- Give your time and attention to their loved one
- Treat your loved one with dignity
- Display gratitude for those who help on behalf of a loved one who cannot do this themselves
- Look around corners your loved one can’t see around
Scope of the Book
The Ultimate Caregivers Guide is divided into five sections.
- Preparation and Planning
- Family Care
- Assisted Living and Nursing Home Care
- End-of-Life Care
- Practical planning tools and forms
We’ve included practical help, such as guidance in developing a care plan, how to have effective conversations with the person you are helping, how to effectively communicate with someone experiencing dementia, and helping with all aspects of personal comfort. We define the levels of professional care you might use, look at helping transition someone in and out of the hospital, and give advice about selecting assisted living or nursing facilities, including specific things to evaluate in making your selection. Then we address what questions to ask your loved one and facility staff to assess care.
Checklists and worksheets
You find a few checklists and worksheets at the back of the book. We didn’t stop there. We added many others — indeed more than 40 separate tools — to our website, ClarityLegalGroup.com, all of which are available for download. We’ve tried to keep them simple. I suggest a visit to our website to look at the menu. We’ve addressed filing systems, home safety, record keeping, financial planning, choosing a doctor, documenting doctor’s visits, tracking medication, personal care, managing contact information, and choosing the right professional help. These forms are intended to help the caregiver organize, plan, and document the basics, and hopefully help them identify some important things they had not considered. Out thought in making these organizational tools available was that they would help caregivers pay attention to important details, even when they were feeling overwhelmed.
How to a get the book?
You can order a book through our website or by calling our office.
Contact an Attorney at Clarity Legal Group®
If you have additional questions or concerns about how the Ultimate Caregivers Guide or any of our planning resources, please contact us at Clarity Legal Group® by calling us at 919-484-0012 or contact us online.
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