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Tips for Family Caregivers

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by Ellen Blake

Caring for aging parents is hard work. But it can also be rewarding!

Taking care of an elderly loved one takes a great deal of time, effort and patience. They often need help with a wide range of tasks, from errands, to meals,to eventually even bathing. It’s tough, emotionally and physically. Even calling regularly is one more thing added to your already busy life.

Do it anyway. Whatever time and energy you are able to contribute is helpful. And you will set a good example for your own children; you may need their help at some point in the future and you want them to learn as they grow the importance of taking care of family.

You feel the role of family caregiver is on you.

Did you know the average family caregiver spends 4.3 years actively assisting a relative in need?  This is not a short-term commitment, so pace yourself.

Attention adult children – you don’t have to do it all yourself.

You will burn out quickly if you try to do everything on your own. Better to think in terms of working as part of a team. Sometimes it’s actually easier to work alone and not have to coordinate with other people and their schedules, but you will find you are less exhausted in the long run.

Elicit help from other family members

If you have siblings, try to collaborate to share the responsibilities. We all have our strengths; one sibling may be the better choice to help with the insurance paperwork, while another is more comfortable helping with doctor visits.Set reasonable expectations and try to assume everyone is doing the best they can. Not everyone can handle the same amount of work or stress. Good communication is essential among family members. This includes the elderly person you care for; don’t forget it is their life and they have preferences and opinions that must be respectfully considered.

Team up with professionals who specialize in elder care.

Professionals with experience and expertise in the aging field can often easily accomplish a task that might take you much longer. Save yourself some frustration by finding helpful resources who know the local service providers. They can match your needs and budget to the providers best suited to your situation.

The Bottom Line

You are not alone. Don’t try to do it all yourself, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.


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