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Caregiving is a Family Affair

When Mom or Dad or another older relative needs help, the whole family is affected. Flexibility, availability and putting egos and family dynamics aside as much as possible are keys to successful senior caregiving – the kind that helps the individual who needs care – minimizes negative feelings, and often rebuilds or strengthens family relationships.

Caregiving is rarely fairly balanced. The expectation needs to be that everyone in the family will help in some way by using their strengths and available time and resources.        

Some strategies that will help your family to come together in a positive way for the benefit of a loved one are:

● Keep lines of communication open so resentments do not build up and expectations remain clear.

● Respect one another’s skills and contributions. Not everyone is good at the same task, so find what each person is good at and use that in determining caregiving roles and jobs.

● Maintain a positive attitude and a sense of humor. When we can laugh at situations, it is much easier to continue doing work that may be emotionally difficult.

● Remember there are many different ways to accomplish any task. As long as the need is met, be open to how others want to do things.

● Ask for help. Congregations, neighbors, friends and agencies are available to assist in this journey. If you reach an impasse or just need some advice, a geriatric care manager can be a third, neutral party to listen to all perspectives, suggest a plan of action and provide links to needed resources.

Putting all the pieces together to meet an elder loved ones needs can be very rewarding and a tremendous gift that family members can give, not only to their loved one, but also to each other.

Editor’s Note: Article submitted by Gretchen Funk, MSW, Manager of the FiftyForward Care Team. 615-743-3436, gfunk@fiftyforwardorg or visit www.fiftyforward.org

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