A sudden health change can happen to you or your loved ones at any time in life. This is a humble, lived reality.
Setting up a care team plan to protect and care for is an act of love. Outside of a nuclear family, it helps to map out a reliable support system for times when additional care may be needed. We start with four steps to help you select the individuals that will become your ‘care circle’.
Preparation is key. Typically we need to have at least one emergency contact. Let's take that a few steps further.
First and foremost, what is a ‘family care team’? In the event of a crisis or sudden health change, these are the people you can call who are ready to volunteer time, space, money, food, and a helping hand. These are the core basics to help a person in need.
A core care team is typically an unpaid group of eager volunteers to help manage the daily routine of caregiving for a fragile or vulnerable adult. This team is likely a mashup of friends, family, close neighbors, and community resources who will help with the day-to-day tasks and activities.
Next, who is going to lead or manage the team? Is it you?
If you are likely to be the primary caregiver, first take a look at your current daily routine. Caregiving responsibilities are in addition to what you currently manage. Look at your daily planner or weekly calendar to start.
Next, list out your personal needs, plans, dependents, and commitments. Be honest about your strengths, health, and other personal and professional abilities. For example, if you have a chronic illness that requires ongoing support or you have three children under the age of 12 and a full-time job, that is your initial map of your potential availability.
Now that you've roughly listed out your capabilities, availability, and capacity, make a short list of people you can count on to support you with your responsibilities in the event that you need to take care of someone else.
The result of this first exercise is a rough sketch of the help you can give to others plus what you may need to ask of others.
Once you have an idea of the kind of help that may be needed, reach out to relatives and friends who have proven reliable and are willing to help in some way.
Quick Fact: Help looks like managing or paying bills, shopping, cooking meals, hanging out together, house cleaning, yard maintenance, personal grooming; even long distance people give a lot to a care team.
Reach out beyond close relatives; this team includes co-workers, neighbors, or others in their community. Cast a wide net and withhold upfront initial personal judgment. Ideally, the person who needs care helps by adding in a few names too.
Valuable team members are reliable, supportive, and genuinely care for you or your loved one. Team size depends on the needs at hand.
Once you’ve identified potential care team members, have an open and honest conversation about needs and expectations. Then you can add names, availability, and skills to the rough care circle map.
Next, identify specific caregiving tasks and potential gaps in your care plan and let people know where they are a good fit. Friends and relatives often want to help but do not want to overstep or know what is meaningful to contribute. Layout what each person is comfortable with and their availability to get a basic plan at hand.
In a situation where you are caregiving for a vulnerable person, everyone needs to be on the same page. Communication is key to a successful care circle relationship.
Relatives and friends aren’t the only ones to add to a trusted care team. First, not everyone who volunteers to help will have the personality, skills, time, or ability to be even a part-time caregiver.
Next, in caregiving for another adult, you will likely end up helping with their finances, medical needs, paperwork, legal questions, and insurance issues. The professionals that we are talking about here are paid experts in addition to doctors or medical staff.
Some professionals examples are:
Is it time to hire a skilled caregiver professional to assist with the day-to-day responsibilities? A social worker or advisor at your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) can help you find and apply for federal, state, and local resources that can assist you in your caregiving duties.
When you have your care circle planned out, download CircleOf App, and invite your team. With the CircleOf app, you are set up to manage daily caregiving activities. CircleOf is a secure and private social connection for your family, paid caregivers, and close friends. You have support and information in your hand while you take care of and protect a loved one. Care starts here.
Care needs change and evolve over time. Periodically revisit your support circle and check for gaps in what you need. When you enable CircleOf push notifications on the mobile app, your team can stay better informed, get alerts, and respond swiftly.
A solid care team comes down to being honest, open, and having clear communication. If you are the primary caregiver and create schedules, you have a lot of planning considerations. Check in with each member on how they are feeling, what they notice, and identify any gaps in support. Then work together on a solution to fill any gaps sooner rather than later.
Read more: How to Hire the Right Caregiving Professional to Support You
Taking care of an adult who has experienced a life-changing situation is difficult for everyone. Caregiving isn’t a walk in the park, yet it is incredibly important and meaningful, unlike any other relationship you will have. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you evaluate the care team:
Having the right team in place helps everyone stay focused on what’s important — providing quality care and loving your person. There is comfort in knowing you have a group of people who have your back.
Read more: 7 Practical Yet Simple Steps to Improved Family Communication
Millions of Americans over the age of 65 will fall this year. These falls can cause injuries that range from moderate to severe, most frequently hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the chances of an early death.
Remove the SOS out of taking care of the one you love. Reduce stress, feel less overwhelmed & secure the safety of your loved one! When you can't do it all, give Roz Jones a call.
Certified Caregiving Consultant and founder of HappyHealthyCaregiver.com, Elizabeth Miller offers family caregivers one 30-minute complimentary coaching session.
It’s no secret that taking care of elderly family members can be a challenging task. Not only do you have to worry about their physical and emotional well-being, but you also have to manage your busy life simultaneously.
If you’re a family caregiver, CircleOf is the app for you. It allows you to organize and collaborate with family and friends, maintain regular communication so everyone is on the same page. Download CircleOf today to build your circle of care.