Distance, time, kids: these are all reasons that it may be difficult for some family members to help with caregiving for an elderly parent or loved one. Yet that doesn’t change how difficult it can be to manage caregiving on your own, and it’s important to find a balance with all of your family members before you reach a breaking point. Below are the top three ways to make sure your family can help you provide the best caregiving possible for your loved one:
Organize serious and meaningful conversations with family members
Sometimes the biggest problem in organizing caregiving tasks and responsibilities is poor communication. Especially if you are the closest family member to live near your elderly loved one, oftentimes caregiving roles are assumed rather than discussed.
If possible, arrange a family phone call or physical meeting to discuss what you believe comprehensive caregiving will involve, and how everyone in your family fits in that picture. Having just one meeting can do a lot of good, but if possible, try to arrange quarterly check up meetings each year to discuss how things are going.
While it may seem odd to treat a family meeting like a business one, be sure to take notes and everyone’s different suggestions for how they can help. This will make it easier to look back later and arrange a caregiving network with your family that works for everyone.
Be prepared for negotiation
If you are the main caregiver, you will have a deeper understanding of the needs of your elderly loved one, and the amount of work involved. However, your family may also be able to offer a different perspective, or may have specific skills that could be especially helpful for caregiving. For instance, if another member is trained in nursing, or you have a loved one trained in carpentry and could make home adjustments, their unique skills and insight will be incredibly valuable to the long-term goals of caregiving.
It’s important to also accept that some family members will not be as capable of taking on as significant a role of you in the caregiving process. Whether they live far away, have young children, or even have other elderly loved ones they are taking care of, these are legitimate reasons that they may not be able to participate as fully on a daily basis. Discussing how they can best fit in to a caregiving role while still providing some relief to your main caregiving duties can give you some relief and a better understanding of your own role.
Create a long-term plan with specific responsibilities
After you’ve discussed with family members how they can participate in caregiving, it’s crucial to follow up with specific roles and responsibilities laid out for everyone to adhere to. This is where those meeting notes will come in handy!
Oftentimes, despite a serious and productive discussion about caregiving roles, without serious follow-up ideas and plans can fall by the wayside. For the sake of your own needs as a main caregiver, outlining to family members quickly and in detail what they can do to help you will make the process smoother and with no questions as to what everyone should do.
When you first start to implement these new roles and responsibilities, it will be handy to have check-ins scheduled with everyone to make sure things are going well. Once this process becomes streamlined for your family, it will be easier to make changes and voice any concerns you may have in the future.
Above all, it’s important to not let your concerns about balancing caregiving duties continue to grow until you’ve reach a breaking point. Your health is equally as important as your elderly loved one and every one of your family members, and with their help, you can make sure you are staying happy and healthy just as much as the loved one you care for.