12.6% of U.S. residents report having a disability according to the Disability Status Report from Cornell University. Furthermore, 1 in 68 American children has an autism spectrum disorder. Creating a personal care plan for those in need is essential, yet the nuts and bolts of how to do that are never fully explained.
So, what exactly is special needs planning? Special needs planning provides an individual with special needs, taking into consideration the needs of the family as well as the individual.
If you haven’t created a plan yet or are unsure of your current one, I’m here to help. Creating and implementing a personal care plan is the first step in making sure your loved one is taken care of and should be planned accordingly. Too often we are stuck in a reactive state where we continually try play catch-up while providing the best care possible.
This can work short term, but has some serious long-term consequences if proper personal care plans are not created. Your loved one could face an uncertain future and be placed in an incompatible environment.
The Three Essential Components Of A Personal Care Plan
Sure, you could rack your brain trying to figure out how to put your loved one’s entire life down on paper, but I have an easier way. Think of it as the “building blocks” of any special needs care plan. Ready?
Those are the three most important concepts you need to remember when creating a personal care plan. With these in place, it’ll make sure that your loved one is cared for in the ways they need it most.
Who Will Take Care Of Your Loved Ones?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but having this in place first will make the rest of your personal care a lot easier to create. Take a moment and start off your care plan strong -- Who will actually provide care? Will it be just you? Will they receive care from a combination of friends and family? While this may seem excessive, documenting who will be caring for them as well as whether it is part-time or full-time can protect your loved one if something were to happen.
If you have multiple caregivers for your loved one in the case of an emergency, make sure your loved one sees them on a regular basis. Remember, comfort and familiarity are key to minimizing stress during trying times.
Where Will They Live?
With special needs, an environment that is familiar and comfortable can make a world of difference. Where will the care be provided? Will your loved one live at home independently? In your home? With a friend or family member? Some even opt for an assisted-living arrangement. Regardless of where they live, documenting it in your personal care plan can ensure they stay where they are most comfortable.
One thing to keep in mind are priority lists. Let’s say they live in your home. That’s great. But what happens if something happens to you? Would you prefer they go live with your brother? Stay with your spouse? Move into a facility that can provide care for them? Prioritizing your list can give your loved one the best chance for happiness.
What Care Is Needed?
This section might very well be the most important part you’ll fill out. What type of care is needed? In this section, specificity is key. It is better to err on the side of too much information than not enough.
Really take some time and think of everything your loved one needs help with. Make sure to think of everyday tasks such as:
- Household chores and other daily tasks
- Washing and dressing
- Preparing meals
- Medical needs
- Safety/emergency plans
If a new caretaker has to step in because of your absence, your loved one may not be able to effectively communicate their needs. Need a template to follow? Use the bullet points above and create a list under each. For instance, under “household chores”, you could list wash dishes, vacuum, fold laundry, etc. The more specific, the better!
Creating and implementing an up-to-date personal care plan for a loved one is an ongoing process. Keeping it up-to-date is essential to ensuring the safety and comfort of your loved one’s future.
Beyond that, you’ll want to take a few additional steps including:
- Create a transition plan for continued personal care as circumstances change
- Create and execute a legal plan
- Create and implement a financial planI’ll cover these steps in more detail in future posts, so make sure that you stay tuned.
Don’t Forget About The Caregiver
While the focus is on your loved one with special needs, you need to remember the caregiver as well. Taking care of a special needs relative is rewarding but can also be very trying. You might find yourself stretched too thin and become irritable. Nobody benefits if the caretaker is irritable and angry.
Make sure to allow for regular breaks, whether it be an hour in the middle of the day where a relative watches them or a weekend that they stay with your parents while you and your spouse get away. Everybody has different patience and tolerance levels, but including your scheduled breaks can not only give a future caregiver some guidelines, but it helps to develop a schedule for your loved one.
Don’t Put Your Loved One's Future In Jeopardy
When creating these documents, it’s easy to overlook an important step that could jeopardize your loved one’s future. As a fee-only certified financial planner serving the Long Island, NY metropolitan area, Woodhull Capital Advisors, LLC can help you create a personal care plan for your loved one with special needs.
Since we are a fee-only financial planner, we don’t earn commissions on our services. That means when you meet with us, you can rest assured knowing that we will have both you and your loved one’s best interest in mind. No tricky sales tactics, just expert guidance from a trusted CFP to make sure that you and your loved one are taken care of.
If you have a loved one with special needs, don’t wait to start a personal care plan. We can walk with you step by step to make sure that your loved one is taken care of.
Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today so that we can learn more about you and your needs. We’ll fill you in on how we can help and what your next steps should be to ensure your loved one lives a full and happy life.