Caring for an elderly family member takes commitment, dedication, and teamwork.
When it comes to family caregivers, it is often the child or sibling in the closest geographical proximity that ends up shouldering most of the responsibility.
This may work for a short period of time, but often ends in resentment and caregiver burnout. That is why it is important to share the load to prevent family conflict and hostility.
Tips for Sharing Caregiver Duties
There are many approaches and practices to home care that can be used to divide up the work and distribute it as evenly as possible amongst family members.
Some things to try can include:
- Starting a discussion
- Making a list of tasks and responsibilities
- Consider each family member’s strengths
- Examine each person’s weaknesses
- Distance support
- Supporting the primary caregiver
- Respite care
Starting a Discussion
First things first, it is necessary to open the lines of communication and start a discussion.
This can be done by arranging a meeting for all involved family members.
If it is feasible to meet at a physical location, that is likely the most effective approach. If not, it can be done over the phone, through email, or online via Skype or a similar video meeting platform.
Find out all family members that wish to be involved and initiate a dialogue. There is no point in forcing unwilling family members to participate, it will only cause more problems.
Once you have an idea of all family members wishing offer to assistance and support, the next step is figure out what needs to be done.
Make a list of all tasks and activities your loved one needs help with on a daily basis.
This may be things like housekeeping, personal hygiene, groceries, meals, errands, exercise, medications, getting to appointments, etc.
Then you can get a better idea of who would be best suited for each task.
What personal characteristics and abilities make each family member strong in some areas and weak in others?
Strengths and abilities can include:
- Designating tasks and supervision
- Research and health knowledge
- Nursing skills
- Upbeat, energetic personality
- Cooking skills
- Repair and maintenance
These are all required skills when it comes providing effective care for an aging loved one.
Someone should volunteer to take charge of the situation. This would be someone that is good at allocating tasks and supervising the whole process.
Seniors struggling with mobility will likely need some help with errands, meals, and housekeeping. This will have to be taken care of by a family member nearby, or professional caregiver. Someone that is good at fixing things may also be useful in this area.
Personal care may be another area of concern. Assistance with personal hygiene is not something everyone can do. Someone with nursing skills, or is naturally compassionate and empathetic would be suited for this role.
Financial management will also need to be addressed. Someone that is good with numbers can help with bill payments and monthly expenses. This could be a job for a family member that may not live in close proximity.
Family members with lots of money may also want to offer some financial support.
The primary caregiver will ideally be someone in close proximity, that is a good supervisor, with a patient and caring nature.
Personal Weaknesses and Limitations
Just as important as strengths, limitations will also need to be considered when it comes to assigning tasks.
Some possible limitations could be:
- Other responsibilities
People with busy schedules or limited funds will be limited in the amount of support they can offer. Many people have their own families to support and careers to attend to.
It is not recommended to take on substantial responsibilities if you don’t have the patience for it. Conflict and irritation will likely ensure.
Distance is often the biggest limitation when it comes to offering home care assistance for an elderly family member. The amount of help you can provide is restricted by where you live.
It is obviously not practical to expect help with daily routines from a family member in another city, province, or country.
Financial assistance is a good option for long distance caregivers. Emotional support can be given over the phone or through email.
The primary caregiver will need as much support as they can get from siblings and other family members.
If the support system required is not possible, it may be time to look into respite care.
Respite care refers to temporary care provided in the place of the usual or regular caregiver.
Respite caregivers can be employed from a reputable home care agency to provide relief assistance whenever it is needed, offering a range of services to assist your loved one.