Family Caregiving Considerations and Planning

Even when roles and dynamics change within a family, family members and relatives take care of each other. Whether children start taking care of their parents or a niece caring for a newly disabled aunt, or spouse-to-spouse care, no matter who the caregiver and no matter what the dynamic – the family caregiver experience is different for everybody but it still does have some universal truths that every family caregiver should consider below.

Family caregiver challenges

One challenge involved in caring for a loved one includes the diverse care ideas from caregivers that can conflict. Another challenge is that siblings often forget to include their parents in decisions about their care. The parents’ input is critical to successful caregiving. Make a formal written care plan that all parties agree to including the parents. Once you implement the plan, be flexible so that new ideas can be tried.

Pros/Cons of rotating caregiving

The obvious major pro of shared caregiving is the shared workload among family. The major disadvantage of rotating caregiving duties among family members is that you get diverse ideas about the care that can cause conflicts and you will most likely have arguments about what is best for your loved one.

Some caregivers will press the parents to be more independent and others will coddle them. Remember to remain flexible and allow your siblings to have this special time with their parents – each has their own relationship and dynamic. Save your arguments for important medical decisions.

The two most common incidents that can make home care near impossible is a fall or stroke caused by mismanaged medications. Make sure you all agree on the medications and ensure they are given consistently.

Remember that all of you have their well-being and your peace of mind as the goal!”

Setting a schedule & sharing responsibility

Everyone involved should be specific and open about their availability to each other. Do some self-reflection and know your personal physical and time limitations and share this with your other caregivers. Don’t forget to include family members that can’t be part of the physical in-home care team but can help financially or in other ways. At a minimum they can provide financially for you to have a day off for respite, help your loved one with paying bills online, setting up doctor’s appointments over the phone, etc.

Setting realistic expectations

When setting realistic expectations for caregiving for a family member, realize early that one or two caregivers will always end up with the bulk of the care. Know your personal physical and time limitations and ask for help before you are overwhelmed. A care plan should consider each family caregiver’s work, school, children, and other responsibilities they may have. Show respect for all parties’ ideas including the parent.

When to bring in outside help

Take time weekly or monthly to reflect on your current situation and be honest about how the current plan is working for your family.

Bringing in outside caregiver can be hard to recognize because that point is different for each caregiver and their family.”

For example, consider an outside caregiver if you cannot perform an essential task that is needed like changing your parent’s diaper or bathing them. If you know you are not the kind of person that can do this or your parents would be too embarrassed, do not attempt it, hire a professional caregiver.

Care for the caregiver

While being a caregiver, it’s easy to get lost in the seemingly never-ending duties but remember to enjoy this time with your loved one when you can. Also don’t forget to take care of yourself too! Join a caregiver help group in-person or if you cannot leave your loved one, join an online group. All in all, seek help and support, enjoy this time with your loved one, and enjoy a good laugh. It is a most rewarding time!

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