Early family involvement will ease the burden on the caregiver

An increasing number of adults are becoming the primary caregiver for their spouse. The burden of the caregiver does not necessarily fall on the younger of the two, or even on the allegedly healthier spouse. Sudden illness and accidents can wreak havoc on a home.

In our home, my husband and I keep ourselves well informed about the affairs of the home. Early family involvement in this way was helpful when I got sick and was hospitalized for a long time. It was comforting to know that everything was done at home.

This family involvement doesn’t just apply to a household, it may need to be extended to your parents or your adult children. There is great wisdom and comfort in being prepared. It is not good for a spouse to keep an eye on the details of the house and not even know where the papers are kept.

Here is a partial list of some things for husbands to consider. They are also important to consider as the possibility of caring for one or both of your elderly parents increases.

1. Medical information. What medications are currently being taken? Where are they kept? Who is the main doctor? Are there any allergies? Diet requirements?

2. Cleaning. Where are the keys to the house, garage or other buildings? Any animal or plant to take care of?

3. Utilities. Are bills paid regularly? Do you have a contact number for the electric, gas or phone company? Are there monthly cable, internet, or other charges I need to know about?

4. Insurance. Is there a home policy? Because? Doctor? 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 any of you sign if necessary? Are there savings accounts or safe deposit boxes?

6. Division of Motor Vehicles. Are all vehicles tagged and registered? Any pending fees or tickets?

7. Taxes. Are takings paid for 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 in regularly to wash clothes, clean the house, do gardening or some other chore for them? If so, you need their names and phone numbers. Do you have a key to the house? Who else can have a key?

Understandably, this is a very basic list. However, from experience, I can tell you that taking the time to answer these questions will have a great impact on your peace of mind in the event of something unforeseen. Make up your mind to reach out to your family members this week about some of these details.

Think of your adult children. Are there any of these items that I should go over with them? If family members are not interested, you can make a list of this necessary information. You can put the information in a large envelope somewhere if necessary. Make sure others know where the information will be located.

This article is meant to cover the basics. To truly be prepared for emergencies, you should speak to your banker about any accounts you have and make sure that the necessary steps are taken in the event that you are hospitalized or unable to run your business. Insurance policies and wills should be reviewed frequently for your own safety and that of others.

Caring for others can be exhausting and stressful, as well as a joy and a blessing. Being prepared is one way to lighten the load. I pray that this list stimulates your thinking and helps your family feel comfortable sharing information with others.

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