As family members age, the responsibility of their care often falls on the younger generation, usually their children and grandchildren, and according to a study done by the National Alliance for Caregiving in 2009, that includes more than of 65 million Americans. Managing a loved one’s care is often a full-time job, as that person’s living situation, finances and physical and mental health often all need to be cared for. Sharing these responsibilities amongst other family members can help alleviate some of the stress that comes with caring for an aging parent or grandparent, but it’s typically not that easy. Disagreements about how much care and who will play what role in giving that care can easily plague caregivers who don’t communicate well with each other. Fortunately though, if caregivers are proactive about their approach to caring for aging parents and grandparents, the process can be much smoother for their family.
Here are a few tips for sharing caregiver responsibilities with your family:
The best time to discuss how to care for an aging family member is prior to a crisis. Sit down with your siblings, cousins or anyone else involved in your loved one’s life and talk about how everyone can best contribute to the care of that person. Laying the groundwork with a basic plan like this helps get everyone on the same page so that if there ever is an emergency, your family is prepared and can jump into action faster. Also, don’t be afraid to discuss with your parents and grandparents how they’d like to be cared for. Understanding their wishes can help the rest of your family make decisions when a situation occurs.
Medical care is usually quite expensive, so it’s important for all of the caregivers to understand the finances of the person being taken care of. Meeting with a financial planner can shed light on the best and most financially responsible way to budget for your family member’s care and keep everyone on the same page in terms of money.
Divide Up Responsibility
When the time comes to begin taking care of aging family members, be sure to specifically divide up responsibilities amongst all the caregivers. Having specific duties helps minimize confusion about medical care, meal planning, appointments, etc. It also will help make sure that no one caregiver is shouldering too much responsibility, which in turn can limit caregiver disagreements. Should a disagreement flare up talking to a professional, such as a licensed social worker, can be of assistance to your family. These experts will be able to provide an objective point of view on your loved one’s care and help everyone decide on what is best for them.
What else have you done to make caregiving easier on you and your family?