Are you a Family Caregiver?  If so, you are very familiar with doing many tasks every day for the benefit of your Loved One.  You do the best you can with what you’ve got.  But sometimes, you encounter an issue that is huge.  You can’t help but thinking, “If only we could dial the clock back a few years, we would have done things differently”.

Seniors woman with her caregiver at home

Uncovering these obstacles before they happen is what Bridge of Life Planning is all about.  It starts when you (probably adult child or “well” spouse) sits down to have a conversation with your declining Loved One.  Hopefully you have this discussion while your Loved One is well enough to offer their input.  If not, usually these decisions are made based on consensus of the siblings at a Family Meeting.

Bridge of Life Planning is founded upon three big pillars.  We will tackle one of the pillars in each of the next 3 Blog Posts.  Today, we will discuss the Pillar of Preference.

Pillar of Preference

Preferences –  What does your loved one want?  Sounds pretty simple, but it’s not.  I visited with a man and his Daughter recently and discovered quickly that neither one of them had thought about this question at all.  Dad had been blessed with good health (up to this point in time). He had not spent any time thinking about what he would want if his health declined.  For such an important issue, you would think that some significant thought and discussion would go into it, but usually this doesn’t happen until after something bad happens.  If you are lucky, maybe you get “a warning shot across the bow” which alerts you to the fact that “now it’s time to have that family discussion”.

Here are a few of the topics to be discussed in the Preferences category:

  • Who do you want in your home?  If your health declines and you need help in your home, who do you want coming in to help?  I understand that you may not want anyone coming in to your home, but if you get to the point where you really need help, the two initial choices are usually (1) Family or (2) Professional Caregivers. Let’s briefly discuss Family first.
  • Family Caregivers could be your kids or other family members who are able and willing to come into your home to assist you with some of your activities of daily living.  The problem is that they are often busy with their own lives. Thus, they may not be able to devote enough time to help with all of the tasks that you need assistance with.  If you have several children and they are all willing to help. Then they can schedule time and tasks so as to coordinate care and make sure that all necessary tasks are done.  A more involved version of this would be if you move in with one of your kids or if one of your kids moves in with you (both topics of future blog posts).


  • Professional Non-medical home care.  This is a non-medical home care company that (for a fee) provides non-medical care in the home.  Typically these companies may also offer meal preparation, medicine reminders, light housekeeping, local transportation and other basic tasks.  Services will vary so you should definitely check as to what is offered.  It is also good to check to see whether they have a deep roster.  If Caregiver “A” is sick on a particular Monday, do they have a Caregiver “B” that they can dispatch as a substitute on short order.  Sometimes folks don’t want “strangers” coming in their home on a daily basis.  For this and other reasons, facility care may be preferred.
  • Assisted Living Facility.  These facilities provide assistance with one or more activities of daily living, such as feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting or transferring.  Assisted Living Facilities are generally very nice, but offer limited medical assistance.  You pretty well need to be able to fend for yourself, with just a little assistance.  They do normally offer meal preparation, housekeeping and (some of them) offer a whole array of social activities.  Some even offer Memory Care Units for residents who are suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease.


  • Skilled Nursing Facility Care.  If your health declines to the point where you need skilled medical care on a daily basis. A traditional nursing home level of care may be required.  Few people look forward to this, but when you need this level of care, it’s good that they are there.  Nursing Homes have generally improved a lot over the years. But if this is an option, then you should tour several so that you can choose the one best for your family.

A big issue with all of these options is cost.  How will we pay for them?  This, among other financial issues, will be discussed in Bridge of Life Planning / Part 2.  Stay tuned…

About the Author

Doug & his wife Cindy have not only helped hundreds of families with their estate planning and elder law needs over the years, but have personal experience as caregivers and advocates for their Loved Ones as well.

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