When a loved one needs to be taken care of, finding the best way to do so can be nerve-wrecking.
You can choose to do it yourself, keep it all between family members, have a professional come over periodically, hire someone full time, send them to a caring facility or even a combination of several of those.
Between all these options, making an informed decision can be very stressful. You have to consider several factors, both external and internal, to make sure your loved one gets the best possible care.
So we’ve put together a checklist that may help you with your decision. These are the things you should consider and ask yourself before making a decision.
May they serve you and your loved one well!
1. What Are The Essential Things My Loved One Needs?
Between family members that may want to help out and the many services that professionals and facilities can offer, it is essential to narrow down the core needs of your loved one before choosing anything.
Everyone is different and no one is going through the exact same situation, so you need to write their needs down. Preferably with the help of your physician, and base your decision off of this.
The best option will be the one that does a better job at covering all of these while being comfortable for everyone involved. By comfortable, I mean both financially and in terms of time-consumption.
So, when considering each option, list all the advantages to that decision.
Let’s take a caring facility for example. Maybe your loved one could benefit from thriving in a new environment, so that would be an important factor to consider.
Get the idea?
This of course, is not something that you should do by yourself. Involving your loved one and other concerned family members in this process is a must., as we’ll see below.
2. What’s The Best Option For Me?
You may think this sounds selfish, but it is actually about being sensible.
When making a decision as big as how your loved one will be taken care of, you need to think of your well-being too.
If you don’t include yourself in the equation, it can build up anger and resentment and fracture your relationship with your loved one and other family members.
Have you taken into account, the impact it would have on your own life and family? Are you doing it out of genuine love for the person and a strong desire to care for them? Or are you doing it because you think it is your duty to do so?
Although it’s difficult, facing these questions will ensure that you step into this process with a clear head and well-organized priorities.
However, if you don’t, that’s when resentment, anger and bitterness can start to build up.
3. Call A Family Meeting
As we mentioned above, every concerned party should be involved in the decision. So once you have a good grasp on what your loved one’s needs are and you’re in a clear headspace about why you’re doing this, it’s time to have a group discussion.
First, gather everyone that should take part in this decision, including your loved one of course. After taking everyone’s points of view into account, try to narrow down the decision into preferably two options.
Then, get a large piece of paper and list the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options. For example, you could be comparing the pros and cons of staying at home vs. the pros and cons of going into a caring facility.
The idea is to brainstorm the advantages and disadvantages for everyone. This way a result that is adequate for everyone is much more likely to be produced.
4. Create A “What If” List
Once you have a scenario that everyone, or a majority, seems to be on-board with, look to the even longer term and do a list of possible outcomes.
For example, if you have decided to keep your loved one at home with services coming in to help them, a “what if” list could include things like:
- The professional carer suddenly can’t keep doing it and we have to find another one
- Some family members move away and suddenly the caring responsibilities fall on one or few people.
As you probably noticed, there are two main lines of questioning to help you come up with the “what if’s”. These are:
- “What if” for the person: For this, consider at what point will you know that keeping them at home is no longer an option. It maybe they are becoming increasingly lonely and are making a lot of phone calls to family members. Or maybe they are having more accidents around the house.
- “What if” for the carer: These are any personal circumstances that may occur to those doing the caring. For example, if it’s you, maybe your job has changed and you need to travel more; so you are not as available as before. It could also be that the number of calls you are getting during your work day is causing you stress. You decide at what point you could no longer keep up the role of principal carer.
Once you have your list of “what if’s” written down, it’s time to think about what would you do if any of those actually occurs.
That brings us to the next point on our checklist…
5. Develop Contingency Plans
At the same family meeting, you can also brainstorm what the possible lines of action would be if any of those “what if’s” suddenly becomes a reality. You could even start doing things as a family that would make it all easier when that rainy day comes.
For example, a very common contingency plan if you all have decided to care of your loved one at home would be to use a caring facility.
In that case, you could all visit some residential facilities that may be able to accommodate your loved one if the need arises.
It may seem pointless, but it’s the kind of thing that is better to face even before it’s even a need. It can also be a good bonding exercise for the whole family. Take your loved one with you as well and view some options together to get their opinion.
Your Very Own Strategy
The point of this checklist is not to tell you exactly what to do, but to illustrate the ways that you can look deep into your own situation and find the best solution yourself.
Hopefully you will soon have a “What If” strategy in place and a contingency plan. You’ll be prepared and most importantly, you and your family will all be on the same page.
The beauty of investing time into the preparation of a contingency plan is that if the need ever arises, you’ll be ready to action it without wasting any time.
On the other hand, the wrong decision at a time of a crisis can create a lot of anger, frustration and family discord if clear communication and assertive planning have not been put into place.
So be sure to go through this checklist with your family members and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more advice.
Have a parent that’s causing you stress? Download our free Challenging Behaviors Guide to discover how you can figure out what’s going on, maintain your relationship and de-stress each day.