Family caregivers are relatives of dependent individuals who make tremendous sacrifices to provide the informal care their loved ones need to live day-to-day. Whether it is preparing their meals, providing transportation, helping them bathe and dress, or administering medications and performing non-professional nursing tasks, family caregivers provide an enormous, often unpaid, service for their vulnerable loved ones.

These unsung heroes are honored every November during National Family Caregiver Awareness Month. Perhaps one of their toughest challenges is knowing when they can no longer serve as their loved one’s primary caregiver, and what to do about it. If a loved one’s health condition is worsening, or if he or she is elderly and may only be a matter of time before formal care is needed.

Family caregivers can begin a healthy transition by laying the groundwork for change, now. This is where we come in. With our elder law experience, we are able to meet with families under all circumstances and help them find solutions. Let us share three ways we can help you today.

1. Plan Early. Early planning provides an opportunity to explore care options without the pressure of an urgent decision. Do not wait for an emergency, or until a debilitating health condition, such as dementia, makes it impossible for the dependent person to participate in determining his or her own future care. Being proactive can also help identify ideal long-term treatments, services and programs, and secure space when waiting lists apply.

2. Housing. When family caregiving is no longer enough, securing appropriate housing for a dependent loved one is critical. Will he or she need around-the-clock care? Can he or she receive professional care services in the home? Would a nursing home better suit his or her care needs? These are important questions to consider now. If possible, be sure to ask the dependent individual what he or she would like to do, and consider the costs involved. 

3. Estate Planning. One of the best ways to prepare for a caregiving transition is to create or update the dependent’s estate planning documents. This may involve amending an existing will or trust agreement to provide financial sustainability, or addressing critical health care documents. A durable power of attorney, for example, could allow for the family caregiver to make important legal decisions on the dependent loved one’s behalf, including filing an application for public benefits such as Medicaid.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Discussing transitioning out of home care is never an easy conversation to have. You may contact our law firm to schedule a meeting so that we may help you navigate this difficult challenge now, or in the future when you need it.