Are you a caregiver? Are you the only caregiver for your loved one？
Family Caregivers roles and responsibilities
A family member who regularly provides support or care to an older adult without pay is a family caregiver. A family caregiver can be the partner, daughter, son, sister, brother, etc.
In general, family caregivers are responsible for providing support in 3 main areas: health and medical care (such as managing medicines), daily tasks assistance (such as housekeeping), and emotional support (providing companionship is one of them!). Here’s a table summarizing significant activities and tasks family caregivers should do for older adults. Feel free to check it as a reference.
The question is, when is it time to provide regular support to our loved ones? We know that you are concerned about your aging parent’s health, and remember, we are always with you! Here are some warning signs of health issues for aging people, but again, use it only as a guide to gauge how your beloved parents are doing and what you can do if they need help!
Are your parents able to keep up with daily routines?
We know that sometimes parents may not explicitly state their needs, or perhaps they haven’t even noticed that they need help. Always pay attention to your parents’ appearance and check whether they can take care of themselves. Do they take longer to shower? Are their clothes neat? Are they neglecting housework? Reasons are always covered behind some “unusual” behavior, so be observant, be patient, and anticipate! You can encourage regular medical checkups and contact professionals for guidance.
Are your parents experiencing memory loss?
Memory loss is a noticeable sign of normal aging or even dementia. Sometimes you may see scorched pots, which could mean your parents forget about cooking on the stove. But there’s still a difference between regular changes in memory and the type of memory loss that makes it hard to do daily tasks such as driving and shopping. Please check out our previous blog for more information on aging memory loss vs. dementia signs.
Are your parents still social?
In addition to physical wellness, it accounts for social connection and emotional support. Family caregivers should always take some time every day and talk to their parents about their activities. For instance, are they still connecting with friends and engaging in daily activities? Are they still involved in clubs they used to attend? If your parents give up being with others, spend more time with them to help them stay mentally healthy.
Common family conflict seniors and caregivers may face
When considering how to provide the best quality health care for parents, siblings are often at odds when faced with what’s best. Disagreements and arguments are all-too-common among families, but no worries, CareStory is here to help you out.
Who will provide care?
Often, family members may have different opinions about the best approach to caring for a senior loved one. Two major concerns are:
1. How much care does our beloved senior need?
2. Who should provide the care?
If your family is quite large and you have many siblings, the conflict may intensify. For example, a family member may feel forced to carry all of the burdens of care, probably because the other siblings live too far away. Consider whether it is possible to arrange for family members to take turns giving care to parents, and please, never overburden your siblings!
Moreover, family members who live far from their loved ones can also provide long-distance care! They can provide more financial support or arrange home care services to support their siblings caring for their parents.
Decision on living arrangements is always a significant concern since seniors have many alternatives.
Is it a better choice for our loved ones to live independently or with family members? Should we send seniors to a retirement home since they can enjoy more activities and make more friends there?
Besides considering the given care aspects, emotional and social connection accounts for a great deal, and we should always talk to our seniors and discuss their willingness to go elsewhere.
How to solve conflicts and become better family caregivers
After uncovering the major factors and reasons contributing to your family conflict, it’s time to address the conflict and become united family caregivers!
Assign a sibling as the primary caregiver
Whether your parents are, it’s important to appoint one sibling as a “primary caregiver” to help when and wherever possible for parents. As primary caregivers, they are expected to regularly update parents’ information and arrange tasks for the other siblings. Like how care staff rotates shifts, the primary caregiver also needs to rotate shifts. In this way, each primary caregiver can take the lead and share caregiving responsibilities. Also, each sibling needs to have some time away from their caregiving work to prevent caregiver burnout.
Schedule caregiver responsibilities
After the primary caregiver is assigned, it’s time to schedule the responsibilities! All siblings excel in different areas, so why not use each sibling’s talents, abilities, and hobbies as a reference when assigning tasks? For instance, the sibling who is good at accounting may be far better suited for dealing with parents’ financial matters. The sibling who loves sports can be the parents’ walking and exercising companion. If you are a long-distance caregiver who lives far away from your parents and cannot visit them often, no worries, you can still contribute! Want to learn more about long-distance care and long-distance support? Feel free to read another blog post from CareStory!
Discuss different care options
However, no matter how you split up caregiving tasks and responsibilities, you may see some siblings doing more than others. For example, siblings who live closer to parents may provide more care since they are more able to do so. Therefore, sometimes additional support should be discussed.
How about using retirement home services? Should any home care services be arranged?
If parents start to face more serious cognitive challenges, which nursing homes should you choose?
We know these are topics that need further research and discussion, and here’s another blog post that might help you better understand long-term care. Check it out!