by Diana Pierce

(NAPSI)—What would you do if you were suddenly faced with a caregiving challenge? A number of us are finding ourselves in this situation, including me. Helping a friend or loved one navigate life and health care can be complicated and frustrating.

Over the last several months, I’ve been meeting with members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and listening as they share their heartfelt stories of what it means to be a caregiver.

My partnership with Blue Cross to share these stories will hopefully provide encouragement and foster understanding for those providing care for their loved ones. The entire series can be found at Blog.BlueCrossMN.com. In addition, here are some words of wisdom from the people I spoke with:

• Talk about the tough stuff BEFORE the going gets tough. Nobody likes to think about the possibility that he or she might someday need to rely on a loved one to communicate his or her wishes and make decisions. So ask the difficult questions before it’s an issue. Do you have a living will? Who will have the power of attorney? Having these issues sorted out can reduce confusion during stressful situations.

• Put it in writing. In my personal experience, having my mother’s health care directive gave me a sense of loving clarity and I knew the decisions she would want to make. I had her directive and power of attorney with me at all times, even for routine doctor appointments.

• Find support. Caregiving can start out with small tasks, building over time, or it can happen overnight. It’s important to know you aren’t alone. Many of the people I interviewed in this series found support groups or counseling to be a great help. MinnesotaHelp.info maintains a list of support groups across the state.

• Get help. Quite often, siblings will split caregiving tasks among themselves. For example, a sibling who lives out of town might feel most useful managing finances while another who lives closer can help run errands. There are other community resources, too, including the Senior LinkAge Line ( (800) 333-2433 ), Minnesota Board on Aging’s free information and assistance service. For more caregiver resources, please visit BlueCrossMN.com/caregiver.

• Diana Pierce is a Twin Cities multimedia journalist. She was an anchor for KARE-11 from 1983−2016. In 2018, she launched “What’s Next? with Diana Pierce,” an online show that helps baby boomers discover new ideas for pursuing their passions and dreams as they approach their “what’s next.”

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On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)