When Karen started taking care of her mother, she took her shopping and ran errands with her.
With time, Karen noticed her mother needing help with knitting instructions.
Then as her mother became more fragile, she took her to doctors’ appointments, and began helping with preparing meals.
Next it was doing the housework and laundry.
When her mother had a heart attack, Karen’s caregiving responsibilities exploded.
Karen never complained, although she felt increasing stress as her responsibilities grew. Despite the increased needs of her mother, her siblings never offered to help.
Often family members are the ones giving elder care.
Frequently unpaid, they provide care out of love . . .respect . . .responsibility . . .and more.
What family members provide care?
- A spouse . . .
- An adult child . . .
- A brother or sister . . .
- A grandchild . . .
- A niece, nephew or other extended family member.
Too often caregiving falls on one or two family members.
Well, it can be due to geography. Family members living closest to the one who needs care often assume responsibility.
Or maybe it’s due to availability. The family member with more flexible working hours or no young children may become the caregiver.
It’s an understatement to say caregiving can add a lot of stress to families.
What are some ways to help relieve family caregiving stress?
- Share the caregiving.
Often every family member has a busy life.When one person shoulders most or all of the caregiving and decision-making, it can stress them physically, emotionally and financially.
And is often just not fair.
Each family needs to work out their own solutions on how to share caregiving responsibilities so the primary caregiver does not get caregiving burnout.
- Make decisions as a family.
Sometimes it’s not the day-to-day caregiving that’s the problem, but rather all the decisions. Big and small!
Some of the problems family caregivers may struggle with include . . .
When should the car be taken away from a parent?
When should an elderly parent move into assisted living?
Who will pay for caregiving supplies?
- Keep communications open.
It’s often hard for a family member who lives a great distance see the daily needs changes that may occur in someone chronically ill — and his or her caregiver.
Keeping communications open about progress or lack of it can keep everyone up-to-date. And can help everyone see the ongoing needs of the person needing elder care.
Sometimes an elderly parent or grandparent will share fears or wishes with a child or grandchild who lives some distance away. Perhaps assuming the closer relative doesn’t want to discuss it.
Often an elderly parent or grandparent’s biggest fear of is that he or she will become a burden. Reassurance and open discussions can help relieve their fears.
Approaching family members with openness and love may resolve many issues of elder care provided by family caregivers.
Feeling overwhelmed or stressed about caregiving?
Have you heard of The 21-Day “I AM a Gift to the World!” Challenge?
The first life you change may just be your own!
Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Ambassador of Elder Care, www.HowToLiveOnPurpose.com
Founder, CaregivingWithPurpose.com and TheKnittingYarn.com
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