The importance of being an organized caregiver

One of the most difficult aspects of the caregiving process is getting organized. Addressing the immediate needs of the person in your care often becomes the top priority, and getting records and documents organized and orderly can be postponed for a more convenient time. Unfortunately, a "more convenient time" rarely comes!

Here are some suggestions for getting the process started:

• Keep up-to-date records of medications, and any side-effects. Note what works and what doesn't.

• Keep records of all doctor appointments, including the reason for the visit, the physician's response, and any procedures performed.

• Maintain a file of copies of all medical records, for yourself and the person in your care. This will be helpful in the event of a problem with medications, etc., and will provide a history of medical interventions.

• Speak with members of the caregiving family about funeral wishes, and listen to everyone's input.

• Fill out an Advanced Directive and give it to physicians and involved relatives.

• Have a will completed or have the existing will updated. Without a signed will, the courts will determine distribution of assets. You may also want to establish a Power of Attorney.

• Keep a record of where important documents are stored. This will make things easier in the event of an emergency or tragedy.

• Record all financial transactions: investments; retirements income; repairs or major purchases for the home; creditors; and assets.

• Have an insurance analysis conducted: Is your current coverage adequate for your needs? Do you have provisions for long-term care? What about respite?

• Inspect your medicine cabinet. Check the expiration dates on medications, and check with your physician about disposing of any outdated medicines.

For more information, contact the Caregiver Resource Center at Behavioral Health Services North at 565-4543 or 565-4625.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.

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