THE BUSINESS OF CAREGIVING, by Cindy Laverty

If you were running a business, would you have a strategic plan? Would you set goals and create desirable outcomes? Would you change protocol if it wasn’t working? Or would you run your business purely on emotion and passion?

In so many ways, successful caregiving is like running a small business. For some families, it’s big business. Think about this for a minute.

  • There are legal documents that must be in place and kept current.
  • There are financial issues, which must be met head-on.
  • There is a medical component to learn about.
  • There are bureaucracies to understand.
  • Often there is a residence that requires management.  
  • There are relationships to maintain.
  • There are communication challenges that arise.

Each of these things is all part of doing business and in order to be successful, it’s paramount that you set a strategy; have a plan and attend to the Business of Caregiving. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

Regardless of where you are in your caregiving journey, attending to business should be an integral part of your responsibilities. So often we approach caregiving emotionally, and although there is a good deal of emotion involved in this journey, you can’t sustain emotional energy for long periods of time. It’s simply too draining. Having a foundation in place for all of the things that must be scheduled and managed is key to your success and will ultimately help you to create balance in your life.

So where do you begin? Organization will set you free.

  • Create an emergency phone list. You can’t be everywhere, and having a list of “go-to” people will help you when an emergency arises.
  • Purchase a large calendar and add all scheduled appointments.
  • If you haven’t done so, schedule as many medical appointments as you can in advance. No more waiting until the last minute. (If it’s not too much stress on your loved one, schedule more than one appointment at a time.)
  • Make sure that businesses or doctors have a copy of the Power of Attorney and the Medical Directive on file.
  • Keep all legal documents, credit card information, insurance information, Social Security and Medicare information in a notebook that is safe and secure. Any private information should be in this notebook and kept in your possession.
  • Keep all Medicare and Insurance claims in a file for easy reference.
  • Organize all prescriptions and note on the calendar when it’s time to reorder. (Try to use just one pharmacy.)
  • Decide on no more than two days a week when you will pay bills and review medical bills for accuracy.
  • Designate one day of the week to do errands or weekly shopping.
  • Get in touch with the family attorney and accountant and find out if there are things you need to do that you might not be aware of. For example: taxes, estate and wills, or unresolved legal issues. Send an email and follow-up with a phone call. You are trying to avoid surprises.
  • Finally, schedule time for yourself and make arrangements for this to happen.

Your goal is to be as prepared as possible, so that when a crisis happens (and it will) you won’t have to live in chaos. Caregiving is challenging on many levels, but the business side of it is definitely something you can manage if you make a decision to do it.

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