Saturday, January 31, 2009

Aging Parents: Know Your Caregiver Options

The Guide To Looking After Aging Parents!

We are the sandwich generation. We look after
our kids. Then we may find themselves in the
situation of caring for an aging parent. Or both
of them.

If you are a caregiver for elderly family members,
there are options available. First you must access
your own situation.

As hard as it is, sometimes the best and only
option is for the aging person to go into a care

If your aging parent is bed-ridden, you'll find
it extremely difficult to care for them on your

If they have dementia or Alzheimer's disease,
you will need to be with them all the time, given
the degree of the illness. This can wear you out
and cause you to become ill.

However, in less severe cases, it may be possible to
arrange for the person to stay at home by adding
a few home health care options into the person’s life.

One of the major decisions is where the elderly parent
will live. For many working adults, it is much easier
to take care of an elderly parent if they agree to move
into the son or daughter’s home.

My Mom and I were very lucky. There were times it
looked like a care facility was on the horizon but we
pulled through. I was able to continue working and
she was quite happy.

We also made use of home care in the last 3 years.
This service was free to us in our area. (based on

At the end, I took vacation time to spend with Mom
until she passed away. It was a blessing that I'll
always cherish.

So you see, many people can continue working and
spending time with their families as well as taking
care of an elderly parent.

Depending on the health and independence of the
aging parent, different amounts of extra help might
be needed. It may be the case that the parent can
be home alone all day but if that is not the case,
there are plenty of organizations and people to turn
to in order to get some help and support in the
caregiving process.

One option is to find an adult day care center where
healthier elderly people can go during the day in order
to socialize and stay active with other people.

At such a day care facility, people play games, listen to
music together, organize trips and have lunch as a
group. For most elderly people, this is much preferred
over sitting home alone every day.

Many aging people are not amenable to the idea of an
adult day care center, but do remind them that they
won’t know if they like it or not until they’ve tried it.
Most elderly people who go to such a center end up
being huge fans of the arrangement.

If your aging parent is not in good enough condition
to go to a recreational adult day care center, you could
also check to see if there’s a center in your area that
includes health care.

Such centers exist, they are just fewer and far between.
These care centers are an excellent option for having
an aging parent taken care of during the day while you
are at work without having to put them into a nursing home.

Home care is also an option, although it offers fewer
social benefits for the aging patient. Home care can either
take on the form of medical care brought into the home
or it can be as simple as hiring someone to come over an
hour before lunch to do a little cleaning, having lunch with
the aging parent and then cleaning up, visiting for a while,
and then going on their way again.

Mom had her home caregiver bathe her. Then they
would stay awhile and talk with her. She loved them
and it lightened things for me. A win-win!

Depending on the type of home care that is necessary,
the range in price is huge. Home health care can get very
expensive very quickly, but having a local come over
for a few hours every day can be very affordable and
produce significantly satisfying results.

Talk with your aging parent to get a feel for what it is
that they would like to do in terms of getting their needs
met without moving to a nursing home.

Also, talk to your siblings and other family members
to see what everyone else thinks and to see if anyone is
willing to help. For many families, the constraint of cost
makes it necessary to keep all of the adult caregiving
within the family.

If one person does all of the caregiving, it grows very
stressful and very tiring, but if ten family members each
spend two hours a week, you might all enjoy it so much
that you’ll never want to hire home care!

So know your options, check around your area and you
will find the help you need in looking after aging parents...

The Guide To Looking After Aging Parents!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How To Care For Aging Parents Without Killing Your Siblings

The Caregiver's Guide For Today's Families!

My mother lived with me until she passed away.
As an "only child", I often wished for a brother or
sister to shoulder the burden.

But then I realized that could bring on its own
set of problems. Although it was tough at times,
I didn't have the worries I've witnessed others
having to endure.

Coping with looking after your aging parent
is difficult enough on its own. If there is conflict
between siblings, it can be hell on earth.

These kinds of conflicts can really escalate when a
parent requires long term care and someone needs
to step in and take on the role of caregiver.

The types of conflicts that come up differ from
family to family, depending on several different
factors but it is important to know in advance that
caregiving is potentially troublesome for sibling
relationships. And how!

So if you can get a handle on things in the beginning,
it will be one less burden to carry during this difficult

The number one issue for siblings when it comes to
caregiving roles is who is going to take on what
responsibilities. The way this problem manifests
itself, however, depends largely on the kind of
relationship each sibling has with the parent and
with each other.

Let's face it. Some people are just plain selfish.
I've watched families where there seems to be
only ONE that does all the work. But the others
take credit!

If the family is close and each sibling has a close
relationship with the parent involved, then the
conflict may come up as rivalry.

Siblings may compete with who will provide the
primary care for the parent, especially if the
decision is made that someone will either have to
move in with the parent or have the parent move
into their home.

The opposite problem will occur if the siblings
and parents are not close. A history of bad feeling
and estrangement between the siblings and the
parent may leave the siblings arguing over which
one of them has to provide the care, as neither of
them wants to get too involved.

That situation is the saddest. For the parents and
their children...

There is, of course, a middle ground to this issue
and that is the one where one sibling is the clear
choice to be the caregiver and the other siblings
remain involved on a limited basis.

This situation can actually cause more resentment
on the part of the caregiver than any other, as they
may feel unduly burdened by taking on everything
themselves. They cannot see a good reason why
their siblings are not helping.

Understanding that your brother and mother do
not get along and he remains uninvolved in her care
is one thing.

Seeing your brother breeze into town and stop by
to say hello to your mother for 20 minutes on his
way out of town on vacation when you haven’t
been able to so much have a cup of coffee with a
friend in months is quite another thing and much
harder to take.

These problems don’t have to happen with you
and your siblings if you’re ready to plan for them
in advance. Anticipate the bumps in the road and
try to avoid them.

The most important thing you can do is make
sure that everyone is involved in every decision
that relates to the care of the parent.

Not only will this help make sure no one feels left
out, it will also give everyone a very clear picture
of what exactly the caregiver has to deal with, so
they may be more willing to jump in and help.

Another big help for siblings is to devise a schedule
that meets everyone’s needs. Everyone is likely
to have different levels of availability to provide

You should split up responsibilities as much as
possible. Siblings who live out of town may be
called on to contribute financially more while
those in town can help with doctor’s visits,
cleaning and so on.

For siblings, realizing a parent requires caregiving
is a daunting discovery. The best way to make sure
the parent gets what they need while the sibling
relationships are protected is to make sure the
communication doors are always open.

For more help with one of life's most important
and yes, difficult situations, check out...

The Caregiver's Guide For Today's Families!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

6 Things To Think About For The New Caregiver Of Aging Parents

The Ultimate Guide For Today's Caregiver!

Your caregiver role may be thrust upon you without
much warning or you have slowly slid into it. Either
way, the role of adult caregiver can be overwhelming.

It can cause feelings of isolation, anxiety, sadness,
trepidation, frustration and even resentment. (Then
of course, those emotions bring on guilt.)

These feelings are normal and not at all uncommon
and you can expect them to come and go throughout
your tenure as a caregiver. With these feelings also
come positive moments of appreciation for the person
you are caring for, compassion and understanding.

Every caregiving situation is unique due to various
circumstances but there are various strategies to help
you cope through the times ahead that are universal.

If you find yourself in that adult caregiver role, you
should arm yourself with as much information as possible
so that you can not only learning coping skills but also
create a plan of action which includes alternatives for
anything unanticipated.

6 all-purpose strategies that can help:

1. Establish the groundwork for your caregiving role
so that you can adequately make the necessary

Talk with all parties involved from the loved one
you are caring for as well as your siblings and other
family members and even social agencies who may
help in providing care.

You need a clear picture of when the problems started
occurring and in what frequency. This information will
help in preparing a treatment plan.

2. Meet with your loved one's doctors and ensure your
loved one has a comprehensive examination to test
emotional, physical and mental health.

You need to know everything in order to conduct your
caregiving duties effectively. Educate yourself in regards
to what you can expect as your loved one deteriorates
so that you know when and how to react when caregiving
needs change.

3. Assess your loved one's needs and determine
whether they can still live alone with daily help and
intervention or whether they need to move in with you.

Their daily habits will need to be scrutinized. Things
such as:

*Personal care like eating and grooming
*Household chores like cooking, cleaning and
paying bills on time
*Health management such as taking medications
properly and even whether they can be safe by
themselves or maintain personal relationships.

4. Create a plan that addresses the assessment you
have made regarding your loved one. You may have
to hire an adult caregiver during the day so you can
work or find an adult day care.

You might have to give up your job to care for them
full-time or perhaps they could still live alone but you
need to hire a companion to assist them.

Hospitals, social work agencies and even governmental
entities can help you cope with these decisions.

5. Evaluate your finances and that of your loved one.
What type of care can they afford? Does insurance cover

Will you have to pitch in financially? You might have
to consult with a lawyer to outline all the financial assets
your loved one has as well as possibly draw up any legal
papers granting your rights should your loved one not
be able to make decisions any longer.

6. Whether your loved one can still live at home or has
to move in with you, there are likely safety issues you
have to deal with.

For physical infirmities, you will likely have to make
plans to accommodate a wheelchair or install handicap
implements such as a chair in the shower, rails for
hallways and stairs and more.

For cognitive issues, you might have to remove anything
that could be potentially harmful such as knives, knobs
on the stove so it cannot be used, fire-related devices
and you may even have to install an alarm system so
that they cannot wander off and get lost.

The Ultimate Guide For Today's Caregiver!

Monday, January 26, 2009

How To Prevent Caregiver Burnout

The Ultimate Caregiver's Guide For Today's Families!

Being a caregiver is the ultimate way to show
love, kindness and devotion to a loved one in

At some point in time, a family member will
need assistance with daily living and you will
have to step into the adult caregiver role –
perhaps to care for an elderly parent.

As the general population is growing older
and living longer, there is an escalating need
for adult caregiving and many families step
into that role to fulfill that need.

While caregiving can be rewarding, it is a role
that is also fraught with anxiety, fear, fatigue,
stress and yes, resentment. And...oh, the guilt
that comes whenever you feel resentful!

The possibility of burnout is quite high in adult
caregivers and as a result, there are steps that
should be taken to ensure that not only is your
loved one well cared for but that you are as well.

If you are not happy and are stressed and tired
all the time, how will that translate to your
caregiving role?

Half the battle is recognizing that you are close
to burning out and the other half is doing
something about it.

You have to recognize that your own physical,
emotional and mental health is just as important,
if not more, than your loved one. If you collapse,
what help will you be to anyone?

Plus, you have to know when to ask for help and
not be shy about it. Here are some important
caregiver tips to prevent burnout:

Research your options for temporary long-term
and short-term care when you need to take a vacation,
a long weekend away or if you have to leave for an

There are many agencies that offer in-home care
or companion assistance, just as there are facilities
that accept short-term patients should your loved
one require constant care. Have these alternate
caregivers waiting in the wings should you need them.

2. Schedule regular time away from your caregiving
role. Enlist the help of siblings, friends and neighbors
who can effectively watch over your loved one so that
you can take a break whether it is going to the movies,
going on a long walk or having a date night with your

3. Join a support group through church, on the
internet or even through a local agency. Commiserating
with other people going through the same thing can
greatly help your state of mind. (I would have lost
my mind if not for being able to vent to friends who
truly understood) This does NOT mean you don't love
the care receiver!

Knowing those feelings of anger and frustration are
normal definitely help diminish feeling guilty as well.
Plus, you may learn new ways to cope or find help
that you did not think of before.

4. Indulge in a hobby or something to take your
mind off matters. Gardening, cross stitching, walking,
listening to music and other activities can greatly
help divert your attention away from your stress
and give you a sense of well-being, sort of like
recharging your internal batteries to be able to
cope with your caregiving role more effectively.

5. Find time every day to pamper yourself so
that you have something to look forward to. It
may be waking 30 minutes early to savor a
gourmet cup of coffee in peace or soaking in a
hot tub full of bubbles.

Perhaps it is those precious minutes of reading
time while your loved one sleeps. Whatever
unravels those internal knots, if only for a little
while, is what you should do each day.

Always remember – it is not selfish to want
to be alone and it is ok and perfectly normal
to feel frustrated and angry about your situation.

You will realize many rewards in caregiving
such as getting to know your loved one more
but those rewards do come at a price sometimes.

By taking care of yourself first, you will be able
to take care of your loved ones more effectively
and efficiently.

The Ultimate Caregiver's Guide For Today's Families!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Taking Care Of Your Parents When The Time Comes

This is a subject close to my heart. You see,
my Mom lived with me until she passed away
in May 2006. It only seems like a few months
ago. I miss her more today than when she first

A Caregiver's Guide!

That may have to do with the fact I'm divorced
and liked to say Mom and I were side-kicks. So
now a vital part of me is gone. Being an "only child",
makes me feel like an orphan.

This is not to say that looking after aging parents
is easy. It's not for everyone. But there are many
facets to this life event.

You may live thousands of miles from your parents.
You have to coordinate things from a distance.

You may have siblings and in a perfect world, you
agree on how to take care of your aging parents.

You may live close by. You may be able to have
an aging parent live with you in your own home.

You may decide to live with them and take care
of them.

So if you are faced with eldercare issues, you have
my prayers. I only wish I would have had more
resources when Mom and I were together.

As I look back, I know I could have done things
better. Yes, guilt is always a part of it. Especially
for daughters! But that's another story!

Today I found something that warmed my heart.
I only wish I would have come up with it!

Take a look to see if it could give you some peace
and understanding as you face the inevitable...

A Caregiver's Guide!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Looking After Aging Parents: You Are Not Alone

Many times I needed help when caring for my Mom
but didn't know where to turn. As an "only child",
I had my share of mini-meltdowns behind my bedroom

Mom is gone now but looking back I am thankful I was
able to have her live with me until the very end. Being
lucid at 95 is something I don't think I'll be able to say!

There are so many areas to looking after aging
parents. Issues that must be faced and dealt with.

The Eldercare Team is just such a place. I wish I
would have found it when I needed it!

Click on the link at the top of this page to learn
more. Good luck and Godspeed!