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How to Plan as a Caregiver
An older couple sits with a care worker and discusses their care options while she notes them in a file.

Whether you are new to caregiving or have been a caregiver for years, you can benefit from having a plan. Too often, people don't think about what it will take to support an older loved one until there is a problem. No matter where you are in the caregiver's journey, it helps to take some time to consider where you are going and how you and your loved one want to get there.

Here is the information to gather and questions to ask to build the foundation of your plan:

Finances

  • Make a list of all accounts and where they are held.
  • Consolidate and simplify accounts where possible.
  • Review Social Security and veterans’ benefits.
  • Make sure all beneficiary designations are up-to-date.
  • Streamline bill paying.

Insurance

  • Make a list of all insurance policies and where they are located.
  • Review homeowners, auto and liability insurance to make sure they are adequate, appropriate and up to date.
  • Review health insurance coverage and consider whether it would be appropriate to add a Medigap policy to pay for costs not covered by Medicare.

Legal Documents

  • Do they have a will or an estate plan?
  • If so, does it reflect their current wishes (i.e., does it pass property to the correct people and have the correct people taking charge)?
  • Do they have an up-to-date durable power of attorney for finance?

Living Arrangements

  • Is their current housing situation suitable?
  • Do any changes, updates or modifications need to be made to the house?
  • Have they made contingency plans for illness, disability or death of a spouse?
  • Is there money available to pay for those contingencies (e.g., savings or long-term care insurance)?

Health

  • Make a list of their doctors, as well as any medications they are taking.
  • Do they have an up-to-date durable power of attorney for health care?
  • Does their durable power of attorney for health care contain a health-care directive that spells out their wishes for life-prolonging care?
  • Do they have an advance directive or living will?
  • Do they want a “Do not resuscitate” (DNR) order or a “Do not intubate” (DNI) order?