Gray Power: Caregiver needs abound

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2005

There are additional needs for the caregiver to consider as one prepares to take care of the parent, relative or loved one.

Create a financial profile

List sources of income, such as Social Security and pensions, monthly and yearly income List expenses, bank accounts and investments and statements of net worth.

Get important account numbers in case these are needed in an emergency.

Review legal needs

Determine which legal documents they need &045; for example, wills, advance directives such as living wills and health proxy forms, trusts, powers of attorney, etc.

Find out where they keep important documents such as their birth certificate, deed to home and insurance policies.

Gather information about services that can provide help. These services include home care, adult daycare services, home-delivered meals and help with everyday activities.

Take Care of Yourself

Many caregivers get so caught up in providing care for others that their own needs go unmet.

Here are some tips that can help caregivers take care of themselves &045; especially when they’re caring for others. Take care of your own health. Eat properly, get regular exercise and set aside some time each week to do something you enjoy.

Speak up when you need support or assistance. Ask for help from family and friends before you get to the breaking point.

Find out about services that help caregivers. Care/case management from a social service agency may be able to link your parents to services and benefits, adult day services.

Ask about respite care that can give you a break and about support groups – both in your community and on the Internet.

Seek help or training to improve your coping skills.

Many people who don’t think of themselves as &8220;caregivers&8221; are nevertheless providing regular ongoing care for older friends or relatives.

The challenges they face can be daunting. But by being prepared and informed, caregivers can make it easier to meet their own and their loved ones’ needs.

Dr. Marvin Copes serves as a volunteer for AARP. He can be reached at