Annie easily slipped into becoming the sole caregiver of her parents. What started out as monthly grocery shopping for them, over the course of 2 years became a full time duty, an overwhelming burden and just about broke her emotionally and financially.
They say that it’s good that primary caregivers don’t know what to expect or they would not enter into the situation. That is only true if they aren’t honest with themselves and with others, don’t research the many options and review the abundant material now available to families. Not everyone can take on the responsibility for any number of reasons. So potential caregivers of aging parents should ask themselves the following questions as the need for care and assistance begins to grow:
- What level of care am I able or willing to provide?
- At what point will I need to involve a professional, like a care manager or lawyer?
- How has my family resolved issues in the past involving difficult and complex concerns?
- Are my loved ones very private people and how can I best be respectful?
- What is my relationship with other care providers and how are our roles similar or different?
- Do I have the feeling my loved ones are making the right decisions about their future? Do other caregivers agree with me?
Gather the important people who participate in caring for the aging adult, then agree upon the specific roles that each person will play. Be honest about what you're able to give - for example, will you give more time or money?
Get the emotional support you received from your parents in the past in other ways.
Talk with friends who are in similar situations. Join a caregiver support group.
If you're sharing the caregiving tasks with siblings, keep the lines of communication open.
Send each other progress reports.
Finally, find ways to have more fun with an aging or disabled adult for whom you feel responsible or love. Try to spend YOUR time doing things that will be most appreciated. Hire out house maintenance tasks, like lawn care and snow removal. Use a companion service for light housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping and errands. Spend your time doing things WITH rather than FOR the older adult. Professional organizations can help with the mundane tasks so you can spend more quality time looking through photo albums, writing letters to out of town family, taking the grandkids to the park, or sharing a cup of tea.
Begin your journey of caregiving by defining preferences, plans and roles prior to being confronted and swept up by crises.
About The Author
Linda LaPointe, MRA is an ElderLife Matters coach and author of several products to assist families experiencing aging including the pamphlet, Don’t Be a Burden: 100 Tips. Get free articles and information at www.SOSpueblo.com .