Being a family caregiver is a big job, and every task worth undertaking needs to be carefully planned. You know what they say: Failing to plan is planning to fail! So, what does your plan look like? Chris and I talk a lot about having a plan, because we have learned from owning our own business that a great plan can set you up for success. Likewise, just managing the day-to-day chaos with no real goal in sight can leave anyone feeling exhausted, frustrated, and like a dismal failure. Even worse, burnout comes on quickly if you just make up things as each day progresses.
If you’ve followed us here for any time at all you have seen information about having a plan. Family caregivers need to think through many different aspects of their responsibilities in order to have a sound working plan. Does your plan involve other family members, and do they know what they need to do should they get a quick call and need to go into action? What about neighbors or friends? Is their information kept current so, as needs change, they are still able to cover for you at a moment’s notice? Are all the medical documents, like Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and insurance cards readily available should they be needed quickly? How will financial matters be handled if something happens to you? While this type of situation is not something we relish considering, it is vital that your loved one’s care can continue seamlessly if you suddenly cannot provide the care yourself.
If you haven’t already done so, begin to have some open-ended conversations with others who might be a part of your plan, or at least join with you in the planning process. Thinking partners might help you see or consider things you otherwise might miss. This isn’t something you can accomplish over lunch on a Wednesday; it might take months to fully construct a solid strategy that covers all your bases. Bathe this process in prayer and ask others to also pray for God to reveal resources, helpers, respite options and advisors to assist you with building your plan.
Next, it’s important to remember that any good plan is always open for revision. Your care plan is a living, breathing, working framework that helps you stay organized and get everything done, but it’s also flexible and forgiving. It’s never concrete, never set in stone. At best it’s rubber or plastic, able to give when and where flexibility is needed.
Finally, how do you measure and celebrate the success of your plan? When implemented, does your plan work effectively? Where does it consistently fall short? How often do you evaluate your plan and make adjustments? You should ask yourself all these questions regularly to know whether your plan is working.
Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about planning your work and working your plan.