Early Family Involvement Will Lighten the Caregiver Burden

A growing number of adults are becoming the primary caregiver for their spouse. The caregiver burden does not necessarily fall on the younger of the two, or even the presumably healthier mate. Sudden illnesses and accidents can play havoc in a home.

In our home, my husband and I keep each other well-informed concerning matters of the home. Early family involvement in this way was helpful when I was taken ill and hospitalized for a lengthy time. It was reassuring to know all was taken care of at home.

This family involvement not only applies to one household, but may need to extend to your parents or your adult children. There is great wisdom and comfort in being prepared. It is not good for a spouse to be left tending to the details of the home and not even know where papers are kept.

Here is a partial list of some things for a husband and wife to consider. These are also important to look into as the possibility of caring for one or both of your aging parents increases.
1. Medical Information. What medicines are currently taken? Where are they are kept? Who is the primary Physician? Are there any allergies? Diet requirements?
2. Housekeeping. Where are the keys to the house, garage, or other buildings. Any animals or plants to tend?
3. Utilities. Are the bills paid regularly? Do you have a contact number for the electric company, gas, or telephone? Is there cable, internet, or other monthly charges you need to be aware of?
4. Insurance. Is there a policy on the home? Car? Medical? Life? Other? Are they paid monthly, quarterly, or annually? Are these current? Do you know where those policies are kept?
5. Bank. Can each of you balance the statement? Do you both know where the checkbook is kept? Can either of you sign if needed? Is there savings accounts or safety deposit boxes?
6. Division of Motor Vehicles. Are all vehicles tagged and registered? Any outstanding fees or tickets?
7. Taxes. Are takes paid on any property you or your parents may own? This is a very important item to research.
8. Other People. Do you know (particularly) with parents, if they have people scheduled to come by on a regular basis to do laundry, house cleaning, gardening, or some other task for them. If so, you need their names and phone numbers. Do they have a key to the home? Who else may have a key?

Understandably, this is a very basic list. However, from experience I can tell you, taking time to answer these questions will have a major impact on your peace of mind should the unforeseen happen. Resolve to communicate with your family members this week about some of these details.

Consider your adult children. Is there any of these items you need to go over with them? If family members will not take an interest, you can make a listing of this needed information. You can put the information in a large envelope somewhere in case it is needed. Be sure others know where the information will be found.

This article is meant to cover the basics. To be really ready for emergencies, you need to talk with your banker about any accounts you have and make sure there are provisions made should you become hospitalized or unable to take care of your business. Insurance policies and wills should be reviewed often for your own safety as well as others.

Caring for others can be tiring and stressful as well as a joy and a blessing. Being prepared is one way to lighten the load. I’m praying this list will spur your thinking and help your family become comfortable in sharing information with others.