Caregivers: Four Degrees of Separation
Updated: Apr 13, 2019
This is Part 1 of a 4-Part Series.
As The Baby Boomer Generation ages, even gracefully, health and emotional care for the aging becomes more important. Baby Boomers are the largest, most populated, generation in last 100 years. Spans birth years 1946-1964. Although some demographers use birth years 1940-1964.
Helping our parents and ourselves maneuver through the tangled, complex web of the medical/senior healthcare industry, financial & legal issues, our loved ones' emotional and physical needs and our individual self needs - creates a complexity and confluence of conflicts: internal and external. I know. Lived through it twice since 2015.
This 4-part Series on Caregivers is based on my personal experiences since 2015.
If you're a caregiver and new to this blog, please see previous post "Tips for Caregivers." A good place to start helping you along your "caregiving" path.
In 2015, my father fell at the young age of 75. He was pulling an emptied trash can from the street curb to the back of my parents' house. He tripped, fell, couldn't get up. That started his journey through the medical system, rehab centers and slow descent to starvation which caused his death in 2016. He was 76 when he died.
From 2016-2017, my mother was grieving my father's absence and became very frail. Her doctor prescribed anti-anxiety medication which helped for a while. But it left her body more frail. After beating Stage 4 cancer in 2011, her cancer returned in 2017. Two weeks after diagnosis, she died at my house supervised by hospice care. Three weeks before her 77th birthday.
During my parents' health descent, I was with them almost 24/7: supporting them, listening to doctors' prognosis-diagnoses, asking questions about treatment plans, conveying doctors' suggestions to them, asking each parent what they wanted to do, researching treatments and medications online, holding their hand through the process. Caregivers' responsibilities are immense. I've been there. Twice. While I am a psychic-medium, I'm also a daughter and human being. Being a caregiver is an emotional, mental, physical draining experience - no matter your abilities, talents or profession.
This 4-part Series is meant to help you or your Loved One navigate through the complexities of being a Caregiver or patient. You can also check out my Tips For Caregivers - a condensed set of tips to help you or your Loved One.
The complex web for caregivers: Four Degrees of Separation. You (caregiver); Your Loved One; Medical providers; and Legal-Financial-Burial (legal). Each of these 4 components is complex; requiring your full attention and energy: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual.
The legal component is the easiest part. Let's tackle that first. You can start this step now - whether you're 30 or 65 years old.
Get your (or your loved one's) affairs in order before major health setbacks occur. You're more relaxed now. Some things you (or loved one) can change later if you want. Some items you can do now, file in your "important papers", then forget about it until you need it.
Good news about "legal" step: Once you're done with it, it's done! Frees you to concentrate on the most complicated tasks (medical attention, healthcare providers, your loved ones' moods and your emotional roller-coaster as their caregiver).
Create Powers of Attorney (General Durable), Medical Powers of Attorney, a Revocable (or Irrevocable) Living Trust versus a Will that goes through Probate Court, designate direct and alternate Beneficiaries on all your (or loved one's) cash and financial accounts. When you (or your loved one) lists beneficiaries on financial accounts and assets, your heirs automatically qualify for your assets after death. No will nor trust necessary (depending on your state).
Power of Attorney: Select someone you trust 100% who is good with finances and details. This person will handle your financial/legal affairs: signs forms on your behalf, legally represents you if you cannot speak, pays your bills if you get sick. The POA represents you in all matters except Medical decisions; important that you choose someone you trust implicitly.
Medical Power of Attorney: Select someone you trust to make medical decisions for you, if you cannot speak. This form is used if you (or loved one) becomes incapable of making medical decisions or you want them to help you make decisions. Like the General-Durable POA (above), this person speaks for you.
When we get sick, our spouse is automatically our MPOA. Spouses are automatically our "next of kin". Medical providers inform them of your condition and trust them to make the right treatment decisions for you, if you cannot do it yourself.
If you're single, widowed, divorced or in a "civil union", select your "significant other", a trusted relative, adult child or best friend as your Medical POA. This form is very important. Without it, no one except your spouse is allowed to speak with medical providers; know your full condition; make medical decisions/treatment decisions for you; know what you want in case of emergency.
It's best to hire an Estate Attorney or Elder Care Attorney for these duties. They know the laws in your state. Specifically ask them: "how can I (or loved one) establish my affairs to avoid probate?" Many Estate Attorneys like writing Wills and processing probate estates. It's easy money for them. But that's not easy for your family or survivors. You don't have to use Probate Court after death. Trusts and beneficiaries skip that step, depending on your state laws. You can also check websites like Legal Zoom for the forms.
Some hospitals require an Advanced Directive or DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). Create that too. Decide if you (or loved one) wants to be resuscitated after an accident. Some people don't want to be resuscitated, others do.
Create a Medical POA and/or DNR: give to medical providers when they ask for "Advanced Directive". POAs and DNRs are easy to complete. If your bank offers free Notary Service, take forms to your bank along with your beneficiaries and designated POA people. Notary will need everyone present to sign forms: each person also needs to bring their Driver's License or military ID.
Memorial Services: Also ask your Loved One "what about burial? Do we need to set that up? How do you want to "rest" and be remembered? Any particular songs or people you want to speak?" It's best to ask these "burial" questions of yourself and your Loved One BEFORE you or your Loved One becomes ill.
Planning our final days on the planet is important. While it might seem macabre, thinking about your "final resting place" and memorial service when you're not stressed is much easier. Plus it helps your grieving family, spouse, friends later.
No grieving survivor enjoys taking responsibility for funeral-memorial services after someone dies. Grief is hard enough. Grief clouds your mind. Thinking of those details after just losing someone? Very very hard. Important to talk about all that before illness strikes you or your Loved One. It also makes it easy for your survivors (or you!). Understand your survivors' ability to make your last wishes become reality. Make it as simple as possible while also creating your final "goodbye" in the way you want.
Since sudden death occurred in my family early on (1988 when I was 24 years old; parents were 48), we did not shy away from talking about how we wanted our final days memorialized. Burying my brother and sister when they were in their 20s (murdered during a robbery); deciding on caskets, memorial, priest/pastor, etc: none of us wanted to leave the other with major decisions like that again. We talked about how we wanted to be remembered - down to the most minute detail like flowers, police escort and songs. Keep that in mind as you create your memorial, funeral arrangements. Candidly talk to your family about your preferences. Ask them what they'd like to do for you, too.
Sitting in a funeral parlor after you lost someone you deeply love, making major decisions about their last ceremony on Earth: burial, casket or urn, burial marker, songs, flowers, ceremony type; is very hard. I lived through it four times - virtually alone. Bring at least one other person to the funeral home with you. Better yet, discuss these details with your Loved Ones before that day comes: for you or Your Elderly Loved One. Write it all down. Save it in "Important Papers" file.
Four Main Degrees of Separation exist when you care for a Loved One whose body is aging.
(1) Your Loved One;
(2) You (or main caregiver);
(3) Medical Providers: Doctors/Hospitals/Rehab/Healthcare providers: Hospitals, doctors, surgeons, pharmacies, rehab or nursing facilities, Senior Living communities if applicable.
Today's post covered tons of mental, emotional and spiritual material. This legal component is the easiest! Next Blog Installment: We'll talk about Your Loved One in Part 2 of "Four Degrees of Separation."
Hope this information helps you, your family and Loved Ones.
---Robin Amanda, Sedona Spirit Psychic
P.O. Box 20797, Sedona AZ 86341