“Sharing is caring,” as the saying goes, and sometimes that is exactly what can make the responsibilities of providing care for a loved one less stressful and overwhelming.
If you are the primary caregiver for an elderly parent, friend or loved one, seeking outside help can give you a break from some responsibilities or take a load off of others.
Here are some tips and ways you can share certain activities of daily living and other responsibilities with family members, friends or other outside assistance programs.
Prioritize and discuss.
Consider what you can do and what others can help with. Make a list of these things and seek help for the tasks you may not be able to complete or need help with. Even if it’s just occasional help, such as meal cooking once a week or weekly grocery shopping, or cleaning, having someone else help with these tasks can make a great difference.
Assign tasks based on abilities and strengths.
People have a variety of strengths and abilities that can contribute to caring for an older loved one. Consider the strengths and abilities of the people you are recruiting for help and assign them tasks accordingly. For instance, one person might be able to provide carpool assistance for the elderly person to and from doctor appointments, another might be able to run errands, such as grocery shopping and prescription pickups, while a teenage grandchild of the elderly person can come over after school and provide companionship.
The following can also help when considering the strengths and abilities of family members and friends:
Computer and/or research savvy. Someone might be good at finding information, and keeping people informed on new or changing conditions.
Supervisor and leadership strength. Perhaps one person has an authoritative personality that can get people to listen, take direction, etc. This would be a good person to have when prioritizing and distributing responsibilities to family members.
Speaking to others and capable of retaining and interpreting information. A family member who can speak comfortably with medical staff and interpret what they say to others, while also being able to ask the doctors questions and discuss concerns or changes regarding the elderly loved one can be a valuable helper.
“Handyman.” Maybe another family member is good with tools, building and fixing things. This person can help you install handrails in the bathroom, build a ramp on the front porch steps, fix appliances in the home, etc.
Strong numbers skills. This person can help pay the bills, keep track of bank statements, review insurance policies and reimbursement, or anything else that requires specific calculations.
Neighbors. A close neighbor of the elderly person needing assistance might be able to come provide companionship or help clean the home, provide meals, etc.
Consider limitations for yourself and others
Some family members, including yourself, may live farther away from the person needing care, or might work, have their own families and responsibilities to take care of, but there are ways that help can be provided even from a distance. For example, consider the following:
How often, both mentally and financially can you afford to travel to the elder person’s home to provide care?
Can calm and assertive communication be provided from a distance both to the person needing care and other caregivers?
A long-distance caregiver may be able to provide help by handling online responsibilities, for example, research health topics pertaining to the elderly person, paying bills and handling finances, or keeping other family members up to date. They may also be able to take part by contacting professional caregivers, hiring home health and nursing aides, or locating care in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or adult daycare and meal delivery programs.
Stay in touch. This includes everyone involved in providing care for the elderly person and the older person themselves. Have a telephone installed in the person needing care’s home or give them a cell phone and teach them how to use it. This can give everyone involved a peace of mind knowing that there are ways to get a hold of “Mom,” “Dad,” “Grandma or Grandpa,” in case of an emergency or just to “check in” on the them. The elderly person may also feel at ease knowing they have ways to communicate with friends and family members and may even help them feel less “disconnected,” or alone.
Consider respite care or an in-home care providing agency. Perhaps you don’t want to enter sharing arrangements, are unable to recruit help, or you live far away from the elderly loved one, but still need help or the occasional break. Hiring help from an in-home care agency can help. The agencies will send someone to the elderly person’s home to offer assistance, including household chores, bathing, dressing and feeding the senior, as well as providing companionship.
Caring for an elderly or disabled adult can be exhausting and sometimes lonely, particularly if you are the only family member available to provide care. By sharing responsibilities and exploring options for assistance, you can get some help, peace of mind, and a “break” from the sometimes-overwhelming tasks and responsibilities of providing care for an elderly loved one.
For In-Home Care Services in Covington TN, please contact the caring staff at Personal Care Services MidSouth today!