So, what is the secret to taking care of Mom?

The one thing that will absolutely make taking care of Mom easier is having a plan of action. Or, what we in the caregiving business call making a care plan. Why is a care plan the secret to taking care of an elderly parent well? Because it guides care decisions and keeps you and your parent in control (of what can be controlled). The care plan keeps everyone involved from being constantly stressed and crisis-driven. We’ll share a few stories to illustrate the difference a care plan makes and then give you a roadmap to developing and carrying out a care plan.

Taking Care of Mom in Action: Caregiver Stories

Jane works full-time but her Mom has difficulty preparing her meals, taking her medications and sometimes needs help going to the toilet. So, Jane decides she has to hire someone to help while she’s at work. Jane is disappointed by the first caregiver because she doesn’t do much between the time she’s reminding Jane’s Mom of her medications or cooking a meal. The EasyLiving team helps develop a care plan that delves into the things Mom needs, as well as the things that could potentially improve her life…getting her slightly more active, engaging in conversation and activities at home and even getting out once/week. The caregivers have a specific plan of action to accomplish the necessary and “extra” tasks. And, they keep a record based on the care plan so Jane can see how her Mom is doing.

Rose has just flown into town to figure out what to do since her Mom’s been hospitalized again. She’s tried to do things for her Mom the last year, but can’t figure out what her Mom needs (and Mom says no to just about everything). There are numerous doctors, a few agencies that have been called in over the last months, and a neighbor who tries to help occasionally. Rose decides she needs to understand all the issues Mom is having and better organize the help she needs.

She gets a professional assessment and works with a care manager to develop a care plan. They prioritize the key issues that need to be dealt with quickly and other issues to address long-term. The plan coordinates which care providers are doing what and how they can more efficiently work together. It brings in some resources to fill important gaps. By addressing Mom’s concerns and desires too, the care plan helps smooth the way to making steady changes that will keep Mom safe.

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How to Develop a Plan for Taking Care of Mom

Assessment A good care plan is based on understanding the person’s needs and desires. Even though you may know Mom better than anyone, it can be helpful to have an outsider look at things. This is especially true when you feel overwhelmed and can’t figure out how to prioritize what needs to be done. EasyLiving uses a proprietary care planning process, which starts with a needs assessment and understanding the client’s preferences.

Addressing Key Areas/Goals A plan is vital because it outlines the areas that need to be addressed and the specific way they’ll be addressed. This gives you as the caregiver a roadmap of what needs to be done, who is doing what, and how. This helps prevent crises.

Written, Specific Steps An important component of our EasyLiving proprietary care plan is the written plan (stored and shared electronically) that clarifies the way care is provided. This includes the daily routine, such as when Mom likes her meals; and preferences, like what she always eats or likes to do throughout the day. Of course, it also includes instructions about health issues, appointments, medications, etc. Without such a plan, you find yourself wasting a lot of time (and money) cleaning up messes and repeating instructions. This also helps you calrify what you need when you’re seeking help (and who can best provide it) or when you interact with care providers, such as attending a doctor’s appointment.

Monitoring and Adjustment Whether you’re taking care of Mom by yourself or have a team of people involved, it’s important to track the actual care being provided and tasks being accomplished. This allows you to adjust as needed, and keep track of what can otherwise seem overwhelming.

You want to do the best job you can taking care of Mom (or Dad), but it can be tough. Caregivers suffer from a great deal of stress, particularly the anxiety over not doing enough or knowing what to do. However, having a care plan is the one secret to taking care of Mom that can make the job so much easier…and keep your elderly parent happier and healthier.