Article contributed to Meridian Health Care by June Duncan.

Caregivers always have to think two steps ahead. Often, this isn’t a matter of comfort, but survival. When you’re taking care of a declining loved one, things can change in the blink of an eye. What was once manageable can quickly become overwhelming; the effective can fast become useless. The ability to stay flexible – and the power of being prepared – will keep caregivers sane, and their charges, safe. 


However, the COVID-19 pandemic caught all of us off guard. No one was ready for this. As caregivers, we must find ways to overcome and look toward the uncertain future with a sense of calm. We can weather whatever is before us – but to do so, we must go forth with a plan. Here are some tips that will help you make the best decisions for your loved one going forward. 

Secure Their Finances 

One of the scariest parts of planning for the future right now is figuring out finances. The economy is still in the process of recovering from the initial impact of COVID-19, and it’s unclear how quickly that will all happen. An uncertain stock market could have a particularly noticeable impact on retirement accounts, which is often the main source of income for older people. When it comes to chronic health issues, a big financial emergency can happen at any moment. Caregivers need to secure financial padding for their charges so they can be ready, should that moment occur. 


If your loved one owns property that they don’t strictly need, talk to them about selling their home. If they don’t own the home outright, the savings in monthly mortgage payments will give them room to pad out their emergency budget. If they do own the home outright, there could be funds available from the sale that can keep them financially secure (Hainesville homes have sold for a median price of $134,900). Selling a home during a pandemic is a little tricky, but not nearly as complicated as you might think. You have to take a different approach, but buyers can still view the property via 3D walkthroughs, video tours, and other virtual means. Catching the right buyer’s eye will give you accessible funds you can turn to in an emergency. 


Keep Them Safe


Keeping your loved one safe today means taking different steps than you would have even a few months ago. If you haven’t already, consult their medical providers about what precautions and steps you need to take right now. Your loved one may need extra layers of protection that aren’t part of the standard COVID-19 guidelines. 


You should also ask your loved one’s provider what to do if they begin to show symptoms of COVID-19. They may instruct you to contact them for a telehealth consultation, or instruct you to call 911 or take them to an emergency room immediately. Make a plan while your loved one is COVID-free, and you’ll be ready should symptoms arise. 


Prepare for Assisted Living 


If you think assisted living may be in your loved one’s future, start planning for this as soon as possible. Facilities often have waiting lists, and the current situation means these lists might be longer, and the process more complicated. If a facility has a positive COVID-19 case, they must report it to the health department and set up protocols for containment and management. Similarly, new residents may need to temporarily stay in an observation ward to rule out COVID-19 infections before moving into their permanent residence. 


Assisted living facilities come with some risks right now, so be sure to thoroughly interview facilities to see what they’re doing to prevent residents from catching or spreading COVID-19. If your loved one must move in during the pandemic, it’s vital that you’re confident in the facility. 


This situation, though complicated, is a reminder that the future has always been uncertain – we just feel it more now. Caregivers are uniquely skilled in handling change and staying ready for what comes next. Creating a plan for your loved one today will give you the best chance at handling whatever tomorrow brings. 


About the author:

June Duncan has helped many family members and friends who have found themselves in a caregiving role. She enjoys writing articles on the subject, and hopes her experience caring for her aging mother will help others who are new to caregiving.