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Love Notes to Your Family Caregiver

Look around your house. Put down the newspaper or iPhone, and let your eyes wander. You may see your spouse wandering aimlessly through the living room. Instead of getting mad at their lack of direction and overall cluelessness, let it go.

You may see an adult child setting up your new wireless router. Without their technical expertise, you would hardly be able to click “Like” on the 875 photos of your grandson buttering a slice of toast.

If something goes wrong in your life, these people will be there to offer a hand. Better than anyone else, you know their strengths and weaknesses. Giving your caregivers the best tools will not only help your care, it will make life easier for them – and we all know they have enough problems.

Caregivers need to know things – they need to know where your important papers are stored. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, Medicare and Social Security cards should not be buried treasure. If a Medicaid application is necessary, these documents must be accessed. If your caregiver is also a power of attorney, a list of financial accounts should be handy.

The last thing on the planet your caregiver should have to do is root through the mail every day to figure out where your money is kept.

Complete a health care proxy form. As much as you crave control, there may come a time when someone else must speak for you. A health care proxy can watch over your healthcare needs and make decisions to ensure that the best treatments are being administered. Living wills and Medicaid orders for life-sustaining treatment forms are the set of instructions dealing with end-of-life.

Your loved ones do not want to guess your intentions and make a mistake they cannot take back. Be clear, and if your mind changes, change your documents and remain clear.

Offer your caregivers flexibility. By stating, unequivocally, that you will never live outside of your home, you are applying both non-subtle and subtle pressure to your loved ones, which limit your long-term care options. Be realistic. Talk to them about your wishes, but allow for contingencies.

If medical circumstances present logistical challenges to remaining at home, an assisted living or memory care facility may be viable alternatives. Do not think for a moment that your caregivers want to cast you aside. They want you to sit in your same purple swivel rocker you have been swiveling around in since 1983.

Keep your house clean. Hoarding bags, bottles, leftovers, clothes and boxes will hurt your health and the health of your caregivers. Dust, mold, bugs and mice usually accompany hoarding. Home health workers will not be eager to assist you if your home is a mess, and your adult children will limit their time, as well.

Whether you hire a regular cleaning service or perform a one-time, labor-intensive clean-up, do something. As any adult child who has cleaned out a parent’s home will tell you, fewer dumpsters are a good thing.

Stubbornness is not cute, silence is not golden, and acting out is not appreciated. The people that love you ask only for a tiny amount of cooperation. Give it to them. Caregiving is an act of love. Give them a rose first, before the dance begins.

Alan D. Feller, Esq., is managing partner of The Feller Group, located at 625 Route 6, Mahopac. He can be reached at


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