A caregiver emergency plan is a care plan component often missed by family caregivers. Yet it is arguably one of the most important aspects of a care plan.
A Common Scenario
Susan had been caring for her mother, Mary, for several years. Mary had been diagnosed with dementia and required assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and taking her medications. Susan had always been dedicated to caring for her mother. She did so with little to no help.
But one day, Susan suddenly fell ill with a severe respiratory infection. She was forced to take time away to care for herself and was unable to provide care for Mary. Susan found herself in a serious pickle. She knew she needed to find a temporary caregiver to help while she recovered, but had no idea where to start.
This scenario is all too common among family caregivers. Whether it stems from a lack of family support or financial resources, or the caregiver’s hesitance to let go of control (nobody can do it better than I can!), the end result is the same. And it is detrimental to all involved.
Have a Caregiver Emergency Plan
Steps to Take
There are steps caregivers can take to prepare for a situation like this:
Identify a trusted friend or family member who can step in as a temporary caregiver. This person should be familiar with the care needs of your loved one and be willing to provide assistance as needed.
Make a binder of important information and documents, such as your loved one’s routines, healthcare providers, medical conditions, medications, any relevant insurance information, etc., and provide this to the temporary caregiver. (learn more about setting up a binder).
Consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide temporary care. This may be a good option if your temporary caregiver is not available or if your loved one’s care needs are too complex for a layperson to manage. (learn more about in-home care)
Create a care plan that outlines your loved one’s daily routine, including their medications, dietary needs, and any other special care instructions. This will help the temporary caregiver provide the necessary care while the primary caregiver is away.
Scenarios to Plan For
There are many situations that may require caregivers to have an emergency plan. Some examples include:
Illness or injury: If you become sick or injured, you may be unable to provide care for your loved one while you recuperate. Having a backup plan in place can ensure that your loved one continues to receive the necessary care while you are unable to provide it.
Hospitalization: If you find yourself in need of hospitalization, who will step in to care for your loved one? Having a plan in place will remove a layer of stress from your situation.
Vacation or travel: If you need to take a break or travel for some other reason, you may need to have a temporary caregiver in place to provide care while you are away.
Work commitments: If work commitments prevent you from providing care, an emergency plan can help ensure your loved one receives the necessary care during this time.
Emergency situations: Life is unpredictable. Any number of emergency situations can occur at any given time. Are you prepared to take quick action to provide care for your loved one?
Having a backup plan in place can provide peace of mind for both the caregiver and the care recipient. It can ensure proper care even if the primary caregiver is unable to provide it. It is important to review and update the backup plan regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.
Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 28 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.