Caregivers need to care for themselves too, advocate for elderly at SkarlatosZonarich advises
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — One of the important lessons caregivers to the elderly need to learn is that they have to take care of themselves as well–and first.
“If we learn to care for ourselves, we have more energy for others,” says Janet Foreman, CRNP, director of care management for the Harrisburg law firm SkarlatosZonarich LLC. “Set aside time every day in order to take care of yourself.”
Foreman is a nurse practitioner and advocate for the elderly who is part of a team that serves elderly clients at SkarlatosZonarich. She and her siblings acted as caregivers for their parents. Foreman shared her experiences at the Women Leading Women Conference Oct. 19 in Hershey.
“My mother spent her final year dying in a nursing home, crippled and in pain from cancer,” she said. “How does one get through this and still function without feeling guilty when we take time for ourselves? It’s tough but necessary to keep your priorities straight. Get outside support for yourself if needed.”
Foreman said the stress on caregivers can be reduced by advanced planning.
- Get legal documents in order for yourself and your loved one before they are needed. This includes a power of attorney and living will as well as documents that can provide compensation to the caregiver child.
- Know where these documents are kept.
- Respect your loved one. Find out what your loved one’s goals are as aging begins. Does he or she want to stay at home, go into a retirement community, save money for the children?
- Make sure your loved one is receiving all available benefits, including VA and Medical Assistance home-based services.
- Have family meetings to make sure children and other relatives respect the desires of the aging or ill family member. The aging loved ones may have their goal and wishes and family members another.
- Keep in mind that staying at home is not always the best option if the safety and health of the older person is at risk. Visit retirement communities and nursing facilities to learn about alternatives. It may take a stay at home following an illness for the elder individuals to realize this is not the best alternative.
- Arrange for weekly respite care for the caregiver even if for just a few hours.
Foreman joined SkarlatosZonarich in 2010 when it formed an “integrated practice” to address both legal and health care issues affecting elder and special needs clients.
She supplements the legal services provided by the firm’s attorneys by making health care planning recommendations to clients and assisting them in managing their care arrangements and serving as their advocate in dealing with health care bureaucracies.
SkarlatosZonarich LLC is a full-service law firm with highly skilled professionals dedicated to providing clients with sound advice and aggressive advocacy. For more information, visit www.skarlatoszonarich.com.
SOURCE SkarlatosZonarich LLC