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Ruminations on Care and Care Planning

At this point, there are many companies and services out there claiming to provide care and care planning. So what’s that all about, and what’s the difference between care and care planning? Essentially, care is a service where someone comes to your home, or another place where you need help, and provides care. Usually a fee is charged. Care planning, on the other hand, is a service that purports to either teach you how to do a better job of providing care or that takes over management of care. Of course, the second service costs more because more time is invested.

I have a few observations about both. First, no one will ever provide care the way you would do it. But no one can provide 24/7 care regardless of the amount of love you have in your heart. Eventually, you will get tired. Eventually you will burn out and begin resenting either your loved one or the work you’re doing for your loved one. It may take a while, but no one is superman or superwoman so eventually you will reach the limit of your abilities. Of course, you’re free to test this observation, but I’ve seen hundreds of well meaning families hit the proverbial wall when they’ve done all they can do and there’s nothing left to give. Bringing in help will help you avoid burnout. In the movie Jerry McGuire, the lead character (played by Tom Cruise) begs his client (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) to “Help me help you.” Essentially, at some point you will need to let someone help you. That is where care planning becomes most useful.

Care planners can help you identify your needs and those of your loved one – including some you may have overlooked. They can also help you identify local care providers with a good track record. However, you should be wary of care planners who over promise and under deliver. Some may give you the impression that they will keep you from having any caregiving responsibilities and, so long as your lover one remains at home, that’s probably not true.

Another thing to keep in mind springs from a recent experience I had with interior designers. A group (who shall remain nameless), promised to come into my home and design the interior furnishings. The design they delivered was so far from what my wife and I wanted that we told them to start over. They had forgotten the most important premise of the planning, which is, it’s my house, not theirs. They don’t have to live in it. The same applies to care planning. If the plan doesn’t fit your situation, your budget and your values, then it’s a complete waste of time and money developing the plan. If you engage a care planner, make sure they understand what you want, what you don’t want, what you need and what you don’t need. Paraphrasing Johnny Cochran, if the plan doesn’t fit, then you’ll file it in your junk drawer with other useless papers.

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