Kathryn Cron got plenty of support from her extended family when she became her grandparents’ home caregiver. That’s not always the case. Primary caregiving responsibilities for a senior tend to fall on a sole family member, who often ends up feeling overworked and underappreciated.
If you’re the primary caregiver, it’s important that you avoid burnout. That means asking for help taking care of your elderly loved one. Here are some suggestions from the experts at Home Instead Senior Care for getting family members or close friends more involved in caregiving:
Divide up the tasks. Splitting the work equally might not be realistic in every situation. Have a family meeting and aim for a division of labor that takes into account each member’s skills and availability. One person might handle talking to doctors and tracking medications; another, bills and finances; a third, groceries and meals.
Give each person a responsibility, even if it’s small. The more that others are involved, the lighter the burden will be on you. For example, relatives who live far away can call your senior loved one every week, coordinate an online care calendar or visit for a week during the summer so you can take your own vacation.
Communicate clearly. Keep family members updated on what’s going on with your elderly relative—and with you as the caregiver. You can’t expect them to know what you are thinking and feeling. Be honest about the stress you’re under and the help you’re looking for. Do you need someone to take Mom to appointments? Sit with Grandpa while you go for a walk or to church? Pay for respite care?
Don’t be a control freak. It’s easy to feel that no one can do the job the way you do when you’re responsible for the bulk of the caregiving. But if that’s how you act, other family members will be less apt to step in. Give up a little control and let them contribute something to your senior’s care. You might be surprised. Your relatives may have been wanting to lend a hand but were reluctant to offer because they didn’t want to seem as if they were interfering.
Get outside help, especially if family aren’t available. Ask friends, church or synagogue members or community groups to step in when you need a break. If you’re considering professional respite care, contact Home Instead Senior Care at (866) 996-1085 or homeinstead.com/ guideposts for a free consultation.
For more tips on family caregiving, go to caregiverstress.com.
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