Emily M. Butler-Morton is a marketer with a heart. She spent 25 years in various marketing positions with various senior living communities. During that time, she helped hundreds of seniors and their families through the process of first accepting the idea of moving into a retirement community, and then finding the perfect community to move to. She has distilled her experience into a small, helpful paperback titled Care Enough to Know—Keep Your Parents Safe.
The chapter titled “Care Enough to Ask, Look, and Do” is particularly helpful. It is made up of a series of questions that people should ask of any retirement community they are considering. The questions are divided into categories such as Food, Financial, Safety, and Comfort, and the author gives some action steps on the best way to gather the information. “Visit at odd times,” she says, for example, “late at night and on weekends. How many staff members are working?” She also suggests interviewing current residents to find out what they like and don’t like about the community. (If you’d like a convenient form for recording your impressions of a community — or of in-home care options —download Providence Life Services’ free Research Checklists.)
Care Enough to Know is available from Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook or a paperback.
While Care Enough to Know is a guide to finding the right community for your senior loved one, The Complete Eldercare Planner, by Joy Loverde, is more comprehensive. For one thing, Joy expands the definition of caregiver. “And we don’t need 24/7 involvement to be considered a caregiver,” she says in the Introduction. “We may be living with loved ones and caring for them, or we may be picking up the phone and checking in every once in a while. Whatever the case may be, when there are older people in our lives, and we’ve increased the amount of attention we give them, and we’re starting to be more concerned, we are caregivers.”
The Complete Eldercare Planner covers a range of topics — finances, emergencies, insurance, legal issues, even death and dying. Each chapter ends with a list of “Low-Cost and Free Resources” and an “Action Checklist” to help you apply the key learnings.
The third chapter of the book — “Be Kind to Yourself” — addresses a subject that is often overlooked in the stress of caregiving:
“Your own health, the quality of your professional and personal lives, and your relationships outside of the one you have with your elders should not suffer as a consequence of providing care. What it takes is a leap of faith. Review this chapter as often as needed as a reminder of the many ways you can be kinder to yourself in the caregiving process. The suggestions in this section of The Complete Eldercare Planner will help you assess whether you are on the brink of burnout, and if you have already crossed that line, it will help guide you to a well-deserved balanced lifestyle.”
Joy includes a number of worksheets and charts in her book, and these are available as individual, downloadable documents from her website. But if you’re looking for these forms as a single document that covers everything, try the Health Info Kit from Providence Life Services.
The Health Info Kit was developed specifically for caregivers who need a single “container” for someone else’s medical information, including health history, doctor contact info, allergies, and medication lists. Completing the forms the first time is a lot of work, but it’s worth it to have it all in one place every time you take Mom or Dad to a doctor appointment!
The Health Info Kit is a free resource, downloadable as a PDF so you can print as many copies as you need.