Developing and maintaining a care plan will help you balance both your life and that of the person to whom you are providing care!
Are you a caregiver for an older adult with dementia or another chronic health condition? If so, do they have a care plan? Having a care plan can help you as a caregiver, especially if there are multiple caregivers, to aid with transitions and to have all important information in one place.
WHAT IS A CARE PLAN?
A care plan is a form [1.48 MB] where you can summarize a person’s health conditions, specific care needs, and current treatments. The care plan should outline what needs to be done to manage the care needs. It can help organize and prioritize caregiving activities. A care plan can give you a sense of control and confidence when managing caregiving tasks and help assure you that the care recipient’s needs are being met.
Care plans can especially be helpful if you care for more than one person. Forty-two million Americans are caring for someone aged 50 or older; 24% are providing care for at least two people.
WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE IN THE CARE PLAN?
The plan should include information about:
- Personal Information (name, date of birth, contact information)
- Health conditions
- Medicines, dosages, and when/how given
- Health care providers with contact information
- Health insurance information
- Emergency Contacts
HOW DO I DEVELOP A CARE PLAN?
- Begin a care planning conversation with the person you care for. Use Complete Care Plan [PDF – 1 MB] to help start and guide the discussions.
- If the care recipient is unable to provide all the information needed, talk to others who regularly interact with them (a family member or home nurse aide) and invite them to join the discussions and help complete the form.
- Ask about suitable care options for the person you care for. Medicare covers appointments to manage chronic conditions and discuss advanced care plans, including planning appointments for people with Alzheimer’s, other dementias, memory problems, or suspected cognitive impairment.
- Try to update the care plan every year, or more often if the person you care for has a change in health or medicines. Remember to respect the care recipient’s privacy after reviewing their personal information and discussing their health conditions.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A CARE PLAN?
- Care plans can reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations and improve overall medical management for people with a chronic health condition, like Alzheimer’s disease.
- Care plans can support you, the caregiver, so you can stay healthy.
- Care plans can help retain quality of life and independence for the care recipient.
WHAT ABOUT MY OWN HEALTH?
If you’re a caregiver, taking care of yourself is crucial. Make sure to discuss any concerns you have as a caregiver with your health care provider. Caregivers can experience emotional, psychological, and physical strain. In addition, caregivers often neglect their own health. This neglect can increase their risk of having multiple chronic conditions. Nearly 2 in 5 caregivers have at least two chronic health conditions. Caregivers of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and lower quality of life than caregivers of people with other chronic conditions.
To learn more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/caregivers-month.html.