What are the key elements to developing a caregiving plan?

If you and your loved one are entering into a caregiving relationship for the first time, there are many questions. What does it entail? Where do you find help? How do you even start?   Your plan may change over time as needs change, but begin with the basics so you can have a foundation to build on.
Five Key Questions:
1.    For whom are you caring?– an aging parent, an ill partner or friend, a disabled family member?
2.    What precipitated the need for care? – a diagnosis, a fall or accident?
3.    Is the situation time limited?  Does your loved one need care following a surgery or injury, or is caregiving likely to continue indefinitely?
4.    What care or services will the person need? Right now? Down the Road?
5.    Aside from basic needs, what does your loved one want? – Most people will want to continue living independently as long as possible. How can you help them meet that goal?
Every circumstance varies, but your goal as a caregiver is to help your loved one meet their needs with compassion and dignity.  Have an open, honest conversation with your care recipient about what both of you expect and determine the priority of issues that need to be addressed.
An initial plan is just that — a first step. Change is one of the few certainties of caregiving. Whether you are just starting, or if you have been in a caregiving relationship for a long time, it is important to re-evaluate your situation often and make changes where necessary.
Reprinted from Harvard Medical Schools “Caregiver Handbook”.