How To Create a Caregiving Plan for (and with) Your Parents

As our parents age, most will eventually require extra support to ensure their safety and well-being. It’s difficult to even think about parents being sick or passing away. However, it’s important to recognize that there are things adult children can do to ensure their parents’ wishes are respected if they cannot care—or speak—for themselves.

Although it’s not always easy to bring up the subject, creating a comprehensive and thoughtful care (or caregiving) plan for your parents will require their involvement and input.

What is a caregiving plan?

A caregiving plan is a set of documents that together outline the specific actions, interventions, and instructions that should be followed should a person be unable to make or express decisions for themselves. What type of care would they prefer to receive? Where do they hope to live? Should heroic measures be taken to prolong their life?

The goal is to ensure everyone involved understands and is in agreement regarding your parent’s wishes in case of a severe illness, injury, or life-threatening emergency. 

Creating a care plan requires input and direction from the parent, as well as collaboration and input from trusted family members, and your parent’s physician, attorney, and financial planner.

Tips for starting the conversation

Starting an open and honest conversation with your parents is the first step to creating an effective caregiving plan. It’s easy to continue to put off these conversations, but having the conversation before something happens will avoid future stress and uncertainty.

Approach the conversation with sensitivity, patience, and empathy. Ask your parents about their fears, wishes, and concerns about aging, caregiving, and finances. If your parents want, you can also involve their most trusted family members and friends. Don’t try to solve everything in one conversation.

What should be included in a caregiving plan?

Your parent’s caregiving plan doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be as thorough as possible. It should include the following:

  • The name of the healthcare agent/power of attorney. This is the person they authorize to make medical and end-of-life decisions for them, based on their expressed wishes. It can be a family member or a trusted friend.
  • The advance directive. This is a legal document providing guidance about the level of care they would want to receive in a medical emergency if they cannot speak for themselves. This includes a DNR (do not resuscitate) and other wishes, including those based on religious beliefs.
  • Last will and testament.
  • Contact information. This should include your parent’s physician and lawyer. Since you or another trusted individual will be using this information, consider what else you might want it to include, such as close friends or business associates.
  • Your parent’s medical records and prescriptions. Of course, healthcare providers will have this information, but it will also be important to whoever is the healthcare agent/power of attorney.
  • Other important documents. This might include banking information, mortgage accounts, health care insurance, and long-term care or life insurance policies. Your parent may also wish to include preferences or plans for their burial or any services to be held.

Consider it an act of love

Helping your parents create a caregiving plan is an act of love that will give them peace of mind and help other family members during a stressful time. By outlining their unique needs and wishes, you can give your parents the love and care they need as they age.

Our Passport to Wellness program provides a safety net

It’s never too early to start building the infrastructure to healthy aging—one that maintains independence and gives loved ones peace of mind. Through Windward Life Care’s Passport to Wellness membership program, our Aging Life Care Managers® help older adults create a safety net and support system centered on proactive wellness planning and preventive measures. Contact us for more info.