Taking things one day at a time is often a matter of survival for caregivers. Meeting your loved one’s needs is a huge undertaking that takes a massive emotional toll. Looking toward the immediate future allows caregivers to conserve their energy for the daily tasks where it’s needed most.

Unfortunately, this is a defense mechanism that can backfire in the long run. Eventually, all caregivers come to a crossroads or two. Making big decisions for your loved one’s care can be torturous in the heat of the moment. If you plan for these crossroads ahead of time, you’ll be better equipped to handle them. Caregiver Support Services shares a few ways caregivers can plan for their loved one’s future:

Assess Their Financial Situation

No matter what kind of big decisions come up in the future, money is certain to be a part of the equation. If you haven’t already, take some time to assess your loved one’s financial situation and make sure they’re in a good spot for the future. Remember to take their medical coverage into account.

If they need better coverage and they’re on Medicare, note the Annual Election Period on your calendar. October 15th to December 7th is the only window each year when your loved one can update or adjust their coverage, so create a checklist of their needs to make sure they’re set.

If after you take medical coverage and savings into account and they still don’t have the funds to support themselves, you may want to discuss selling assets. Home ownership can serve seniors well in the later stages of life, especially if they’re considering moving into your home or an assisted living facility. Selling their property can help fund the transition and cover the gap savings left behind.

That said, selling can be complicated in the current market. Research how your area is responding to the pandemic to get a sense for whether or not it’s a good time to sell. That information can help fuel your decision one way or another, or perhaps open conversations of renting the property if your local market isn’t strong at this time.

Discuss Housing Options

You should consider your loved one’s comfort and safety alongside the financial aspects of their living situation. Are they able to keep themselves healthy while living alone? Does their home have any hazards that could lead to major injury? Do they have access to good socialization and mental stimulation? These are just a few of the things you and your loved one should take into account when it comes to discussing their long-term housing.

Take time to unpack any myths or misconceptions you and your loved one have about assisted living or memory care facilities. You can even schedule tours of local facilities to give your loved one a chance to see which they like best. There are comfortable, homey and trustworthy communities that will welcome your senior into a safe environment that will encourage them to thrive, eliminating worry and risk, all in one fell swoop. Assisted living may or may not be a good option for your loved one, but you don’t want irrational fears and anxieties to get in the way of exploring it.

Get Legal Concerns Settled

One major way caregivers can plan for the future is to get their loved one’s power of attorney. Degenerative conditions can leave your loved one unable to make decisions for themselves. Often, you have a warning and a runway to get everything settled. However, sudden events such as strokes can demolish the timeline. If you don’t already have power of attorney at this point, you have to wait for the court system to assign guardianship. This can cost you valuable time, and prevent quick care decisions.

Preparing for your loved one’s future can take a lot out of you. Remember to schedule some downtime and self-care within your process – after all, you cannot pour from an empty cup. The effort you put toward planning ahead will serve you well down the road. Caregiving is fraught with difficult decisions – make them easier for yourself and those you love by looking forward.

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Harry Cline is a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, so he knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be.
He created his website, NewCaregiver.org.