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Plan Ahead to Make Caregiving a Rewarding Experience

As your loved ones age, it is important to understand how they would like to receive care. Having these conversations may feel awkward at first, and it can be helpful discussing important details while they are healthy. Regardless of your particular circumstances, planning ahead can make the caregiving journey less stressful and improve quality of life for the entire family.

Get siblings and other family members involved. Who will be part of the support circle that assists in your loved one’s care? If you have siblings, for example, talk with them first. Who will lead the discussions? What topics should be brought up? Find out what role(s) everyone wants to play.

Plan time to talk openly. A good time to have these conversations is during a holiday or a time when family members are in good spirits and are most likely to be together.

Get access to important health information. Loved ones can give you permission to access their health records by signing a medical authorization to release information form. This allows health care providers to share information about their medical care.

Make sure you have proxy access to your loved one’s MyChart. This allows you to stay current on your loved one’s health and any medical appointments they may have.

Talk about finances. Caring for a loved one can become expensive whether they decide to live in their home, an assisted living facility, a nursing home or with family. You need to understand their preferences and what resources are available to them. Medicare, Medicaid, a supplemental health plan, long-term care insurance, pensions and retirement plans (such as a 401K or IRA) or life insurance may be available to help with funding.

Make sure your loved one’s plans are in writing. Documents such as a power of attorney, living will and advance care directives ensure your loved one’s wishes are known and followed. An advance care planning facilitator can help you prepare the right documents and ensure your loved one is covered within your state’s guidelines. You can download these documents at

Make sure the plan is available to everyone who needs it. Plans are only good if they can be followed. Ensure that all those involved with care and your local health system get a copy of your loved one’s health care power of attorney or advance directive and medical authorization release information form.

If you have questions or need help preparing documents locally, call 269.983.8166 to speak with an advance care planning facilitator at Corewell Health.

Interested in getting helpful information for caregivers? Visit to sign up to receive our monthly “Tips for Family Caregivers” newsletter and learn more about our services.

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