PHOENIX -- A longer life expectancy has led to an increased demand for family members to serve as caregivers for older adults.
Caregiving can be a demanding, stressful and seemingly thankless job, but really it is an amazing gift to allow a loved one to "age in place" rather than in a clinical setting. SCAN Health Plan Arizona, a private nonprofit Medicare Advantage Plan, offers these seven secrets to success for caregivers of older adults:
1. Learn about your loved one's illness(es). As a caregiver you become the eyes of the physician and voice of the patient. Be sure that you can knowledgeably speak to the symptoms, challenges and changes of your loved one's physical and mental health.
2. Seek support. Caregivers needn't face their challenges alone. There are many resources and support groups to help you; the key is to find them. Some Medicare Advantage plans, like SCAN Health Plan, provide caregiver relief, in-home support, access to medical equipment, transportation options, and care coordination between the doctors and you.
3. Check the safety of your loved one's home. With age comes an increased risk of falling, decreased mobility and other changes that affect the everyday lives of seniors. Perform an audit of your loved one's home, and make modifications that make it a safer and more comfortable place to live.
4. Arrange for backup. Identify at least one other person who can provide care in the event that you become ill, injured or must be gone for an extended period. Keep your backup informed about the health challenges and needs of the senior. 5. Find other resources. Many complementary services are available to seniors and their caregivers in your local area.6. Seek financial and legal services. Gather the financial and legal documents for the senior in your care, and consult with an attorney and/or financial advisor to ensure that the senior's financial and legal matters are handled appropriately. 7. Let others help you. You don't have to do it by yourself. When friends, neighbors, family members or church congregants offer to pitch in, take them up on their offers. "It is imperative that caregivers take care of themselves, which is why SCAN Health Plan has implemented programs aimed at caring for the caregiver," said Tom Lescault, president of SCAN Health Plan Arizona. "We know that caregivers have higher stress levels, risk of depression and chances of developing health problems themselves. It is our goal to help make their loads a little lighter." About SCAN Health Plan For more than 30 years, SCAN Health Plan has been focusing on the unique needs of people with Medicare and today is the fourth-largest nonprofit Medicare Advantage Plan in the United States. The company currently serves 110,000 members in Southern California. In Arizona it offers a Medicare Advantage Plan in Maricopa County. Further information may be obtained at scanhealthplan.com.