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The new year always makes me think about starting fresh and making plans for the future. What should my “caregiver resolutions” be? Jolene, 59 I’m so glad you asked this question. Too often, we’re caught unprepared when it comes to caring for others, let alone ourselves. Planning ahead can greatly alleviate the financial, emotional, even physical toll of caregiving and aging. Here are my suggestions: · Prepare for a crisis. Don’t wait till an emergency hits. Choose a hospital in advance, create a emergency chain of communication, and put critical documents together in a handy place, including insurance cards, allergy information, a list of current medications, and legal documents like DNR orders and living wills. · Talk about caregiving now. Talking about finances, legal issues, and other caregiving topics can be tricky – but you just can’t tiptoe around these issues. Communicate in a direct, positive manner, and always make sure you’re taking your loved one’s feelings and opinions into account. · Make your home safe. This is a good idea for all of us as we age. Create a safer living environment with a few easy steps, from adding grab bars in the shower to simply increasing the wattage of light bulbs throughout the home. For room-by-room tips, download my free home safety guide at www.MedicalAlert.com. · Think long-term. 3 out of 4 of every us will need expensive long-term health care services like assisted living, nursing homes, and the like – and are not prepared to pay for it. Take time now to consider your and your loved ones’ health risks, research the local cost of care, and educate yourself on options like long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, government programs, and more. Good luck, and happy new year! —– Dr. Marion (Marion Somers, PhD) is the author of “Elder Care Made Easier” and has over 40 years of experience as a geriatric care manager, caregiver, speaker, and expert in all things elder care. She offers practical tools, solutions, and advice to help caregivers everywhere through her book, web site, iPhone apps (Elder 411/911), cross-country speaking tours, and more. Visit www.DrMarion.com for more information.

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Last Modified January 28, 2013 @ 2:47 pm
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