Did you know that November is National Family Caregiver Awareness Month? It is in honor of the many humble heroes who provide care for their loved ones. These loved ones include the elderly, children with special needs, disabled veteran relatives, and everyone else in between. Advocates and supporters are gathering around the country to celebrate family caregivers and raise awareness about their tremendous society-enriching contributions.

National Family Caregiver Awareness Month is also an opportunity to promote public education. In honor of this month, let us share five ways family caregivers can better help their dependent loved ones.

1. Create Goals Together. Family caregivers provide intimate care, and can also facilitate growth. Help them develop goals, keeping in mind what is realistic right now, and work on achieving them. Meaningful goals, no matter how slight, can help them gain a greater sense of purpose.

2. Research, Research, Research, and Research More. If you are in desperate need of information, or if you are just casually looking to learn more about your loved one’s condition, doing your own research is key. When you take the initiative to increase your knowledge-base and range of options you will be better equipped to ask the right questions when visiting with your loved one’s doctor. Always be careful to ensure that you are only exploring reliable sources when researching online. Your most trusted resource is your elder law attorney who will be able to help you successfully navigate the long-term care maze.

3. Pursue Options. Are you concerned that your loved one is not responding to a current treatment? Or do you want your loved one to explore new possibilities? Do not wait to talk to your loved one’s doctor about his or her treatment options. Ask about new medications, medical procedures and therapies, especially those that fit your loved one’s specific needs.

4. Take the Lead. Take the lead as the family caregiver. Do not be a passive consumer of healthcare services. For example, if your loved one is discharged from a hospital, make sure you are properly trained on how to manage his or her at-home care needs. Do not hesitate to push for answers and become an advocate for yourself and your loved ones.

5. Estate Planning and Long-Term Care Planning. Two of the best ways to ensure the well-being of a dependent loved one is to make sure that they are supported in case something happens to you. A sound estate plan can accomplish this in a number of ways, in addition to creating optimal circumstances in the interim. Beyond estate planning, however, long-term care planning ensures that in a crisis situation that could include skilled nursing care you and your loved ones will be able to afford the care you need.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We specialize in this planning for the future for you and your loved ones. Do not leave your future to chance. Contact our law firm to schedule a meeting.