Essential Caregiver Check List

The process could lead to anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, heart palpitations, depression and high stress levels
  • Get all the Doctors sorted

I had to take into consideration that I was going to be the one responsible for knowing and managing my Parents’ medical priorities. This was one of the most difficult and time consuming things. We had just gone through selling many un-needed items because we were combining our living spaces, that I thought the “worst” was over. We had to review their medical plan and see what new Doctors would be within their Network (insurance coverage) because we were now in a new location. This included their PCP (Primary Care Physician), Eye Doctor, Dermatologist, etc. I have made a list of things you will be faced with. I cannot tell you how to approach the order, which you will begin with, but I can say that none of these avenues should be missed.

  • Go over medical records and be familiar with the past and present surgeries, conditions and treatments
  • Have a list of prescriptions and know the times and how they should be taken. For example, is it necessary to be taken with food? Should sunlight be limited? Should juices be avoided like grapefruit juice?
  • Look into getting power of attorney, legal guardianship. Power of attorney is your back up plan, should your loved one reach a mental state that tenders them incapable of making cognitive decisions. For example, a coma or a stroke or an accident that damages their cognitive abilities. For deeper information, please do your own research because every situation is different.
  • Hire an attorney for legal guardianship/power of attorney paperwork to be done formally and legally.
  • Request a social worker from your loved one’s PCP.
  • Find a city Senior program that helps with installing items for free. For example, shower chairs/benches, shower heads with extensions, hand rails, ramps, etc.
  • Set up Senior transportation with multiple agencies. This will come in handy because they all have different requirements. Some require a week’s notice, others 24 hours. Make sure if your loved one is incapacitated mentally or physically that you can be registered as a Companion or elect a family member. If your loved one is able to be on their own, use the transportation to save you time and gas money for the commute, plus it serves a a breather too. Set up transportation for Senior activities at a Senior Center, including lunch or Canasta. Whatever can get your loved ones out with people their age and also give you some time for yourself.
  • Complete important paperwork which includes:. DNR/DNI (if applicable),
  • Assess that there is a living will already in place
  • Speak to a financial advisor
  • Legal residence our Citizenship documents (if applicable)
  • Have access to all certificates; marriage, death, birth, adoption, etc.
  • Have a written record of family contacts, close friends, relatives, Doctors, Lawyers, Social Workers, Therapists, etc.
  • Get a copy of the most recent tax returns
  • Get a copy of any outstanding debts or mortgages or liabilities like property taxes, find out what is owed.
  • Have your loved ones Social Security card and get very familiar with Medicare/Medicaid, how it works for your loved one.
  • Get familiar with all types of insurance including: life, long term, health, car and home.
  • Car title and registration
  • Bank names, account numbers, Credit Union, checking, savings.
  • Know the location or get a copy of the original house deed
  • Located credit cards and their number
  • Get organized! Place important appointments in a calendar like yearly physicals, mammograms for women and eye exams.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6-7

I am not a Social Worker, but I turned into my parents’ Case Manager over night. It took me at least a year to accomplish this list, but I highly recommend getting the help of a Social Worker, friends and family. They can only guide you, but you will have to do a lot of the leg work yourself and trust me when I say this, it is grueling. Talk to people, begin connecting with others that can give you insight and input. The process is strenuous, but once you get organized, they will get better.

I was very driven to get through everything so that I could have some “peace.” I have such an appreciation for all Caregivers and the tremendous amount of love and work that they put into their loved one’s life. If you are just starting out, hang in there. This is the time to reach out to God because the storm of life you are in might just be beginning. God is with you through it all, if you know Him and have a relationship with Him. If you don’t, this process can literally take away 10 years from your life. Surrender to God and ask Him into your heart because doing this season of life without God is unimaginable! I can see why non-Christians might turn to other things, the turmoil is simply non-stop! As a Christian, I give it my best and when I run out of fuel, God fills me up again. How are you filling up if it’s not through God?

One scripture that comes to mind, when I was going through all of this is Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Regardless if you are a Christian or not, you will see that there is a theme in this verse. You will have to go through these waters, through this fire. If you are a Christian, be encouraged, Jesus will be going through this storm – with you! You will be able to look back one day in the future and see exactly how and where He was, getting you by. This is a time to draw close to Him and be in prayer – constantly!

If you have a friend or a family member that is going through this, pray for them! Go and volunteer your time to help them because this is a very difficult season of life. On television, it looks so easy. When you go out to a Doctor’s visit, one is inclined to smile at the Caregiver and think, “how sweet.” That was me, I had no idea what was involved and this list is only a piece of a huge puzzle. Praise Caregivers when you see them, for their worth is their weight in gold!

Jesus healed me after 5 years from my stress, heart palpitations, anxiety and worry that plagued my heart at the beginning of this process. The idea of starting a blog at THAT point, would be a cruel joke and I probably would have reacted with a slap to the face, at the suggestion. Now that I am able to post my experience, I will keep adding to it in hopes that it will be a word of encouragement to one that is going through the exact same thing. God bless you until the next time and remember…the struggle is REAL, but so is GOD!!!!

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