Planning Ahead

Assembling a care team or “support team” for an aging adult is a critical step in planning for wellness and longevity. The best time to assemble a team is when all is well—this allows everyone to think and plan creatively and effectively. Since emergencies typically occur when we least expect them, proactively assembling reliable back-up is our assurance that our loved ones will be cared for when they most need help.

Who should be on the care team? A care team consisting of experienced and knowledgeable professionals, family members and close friends can add much needed support during times when support from more than one person is needed. The team can consist of a circle of individuals who are supportive and understand that even if they provide one small contribution, the assistance is appreciated and makes a difference.

Your care team should consist of individuals you and your family feel comfortable with. They can consist of many professionals including the staff at an adult day center, such as River House. The center’s staff usually consists of health professionals, therapeutic recreation specialists and social workers who are experienced and can assist with support, recommendations and referrals. The staff then becomes an additional lifeline for you. Other valuable team members can include physicians, pharmacists, case managers, clergy or church members, volunteers, friends, or a home health aide.

How do you get started? Plan a family meeting to talk about “who is in your network.” Who would you want to make decisions and advocate for you, your family members and loved ones? Evaluate your current situation and what you might anticipate moving forward. Most importantly, communicate with each member of the team to ensure continuity and shared goals. Each member of the team has a skill or ability to contribute. Discuss openly which member of the care team will be best equipped to handle specific needs as they arise. And finally, take a deep breath in knowing that you will be prepared and supported as needs and situations occur.

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Marie Johnson, MA, Social Services Coordinator, River House Adult Day Center. She can be reached at 203-629-0079.