A topic that is really important to baby boomer women is caregiving. Whether it be caregiving to elderly parents or to spouses facing dementia or other maladies, most baby boomer women are already facing or will be facing the challenges of caregiving for a loved one. On Episode 50 on Power of The Purse, I sat down with Sally Balch Hurme an estate planning elder law attorney and an author of six books. Sally has so much great information to offer that we’ve created three podcasts from our discussion.
What is Caregiving?
Most women know that they have been caregivers for a very long time. Women are caregivers to their children, their parents and their in-laws, and their spouses too. The baby boomers are also known as the sandwich generation because boomer women have caregiving all around–the generation ahead, the generation with, and the generation following. The term caregiving is very vague and can include a wide variety of things. Part of caregiving is just about worrying for your loved one, and the other part is making sure that your loved one is going to be okay and get the best care that they can receive. It can be something small like checking in on your parents to see how they are doing, or it can be 24-7 caregiving, where you are bathing, feeding and providing medical assistance for your loved one.
Asking for professional help
Often times family members, as untrained professionals, are caring for their loved ones. They are exhausted and overwhelmed but hesitate to ask for professional help.
How can you determine when it is time to call in the professionals?
It is important to reach out for help sooner rather than later because caregivers that don’t put their needs first will be unable to care for other people. In her book, Checklist for Family Caregivers, Sally Balch Hurme, an estate planning elder law attorney, recommends that before things get into critical mode, it is important to recognize that you don’t have to do it all yourself. There may be other family members to assist you in some way, such as helping with transportation, or making trips to the pharmacy, or being the financial power of attorney and paying bills and dealing with the finance end of things. There are lots of people who often want to help, such as neighbors or others in the community. Caregivers need to be reminded that it is as important to learn to say “no” as it is to say “help”. A great way to know what others can help with is by creating a list. When you have a list of things that others can do, let them know you need help and then let them know specifically what they can do.
Building Your Team
In Hurme’s book, a whole chapter is devoted to building a solid team. This includes financial advisors, bankers, plumbers, auto mechanics, medical professionals, etc. When you build your team, it should include all the professionals who help you do your job, because all of these people play a critical role helping the caregiver take care of themselves.
The Trick to Hiring the Right At-Home Caregiver
The trick is that their really is no trick. It is important to do your research, gets lots of recommendations if possible and then make sure you interview more than one candidate. Make sure that you ask the candidate about specific scenarios like do they have a practice of leaving notes? Does the management check in on a periodic basis, to evaluate the care plan and whether or not it is effective? Does the agency recognize that the care plan could change on a month-to-month basis? How does the agency assign the individual caregiver, will there be continuity?
If you choose to hire caregivers that are not affiliated with any agency, you will be responsible for taking on the administrative burdens, including ensuring that the individual is qualified and has the appropriate training and background clearances. Further, you will be responsible for withholding taxes from their pay. You need to do your homework and make sure that you are protected legally if anything were to happen to the caregiver while they are in your house or transporting your loved one.