It can be a difficult task to care for an aging loved one. A major concern when the caregiver burden is not shared is caregiver burnout. While it is not talked about enough, it is a very real risk. A great tool to help you when caring for your aging loved one is this Family Caregiver Checklist .
Care giver burnout is when caring for a loved one causes physical and/or mental issues for the care giver. This can lead to depression like symptoms. Or worse, can make it hard or impossible for you to function normally. Click HERE to read more about care giver burnout.
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How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout by Sharing the Caregiver Burden
It is important to have a plan in place prior to reaching your breaking point when caring for your loved one. Therefore, the first steps you should take when you find yourself in the caregiver role is to have a family meeting. Getting everyone together to go over expectations and deciding who is able to take on what role can be very beneficial.
EXAMPLE: One sibling lives close by, or the aging loved one lives with them. This adult child would be able to handle shopping and doctor appointments for their aging parent. Another sibling lives out of the area. Since they are not able to physically help, they can manage the financial aspect. They could set up bill pay or balance the check book for their parent.
Having a plan set in place and responsibilities divided among several family members truly helps prevent one person from having too much on their plate. Additionally, if someone is financially supporting their loved one, it is also a good idea to keep receipts. This way you are able to also get added support from other family members and divide that burden as well.
How to Ensure Everyone Agrees when Caring for your Aging Loved One
Sometimes, families may not agree when it comes to how to divide and share care. When this occurs, it may be helpful to ask for some outside help from a third party. Using either a social worker or a geriatric care manager could be very beneficial.
Having a social worker or a geriatric care manager would enable your family to get added care from a professional trained in that field. They would be able to help you decide the best way to divide care as well as help give you other recommendations.
EXAMPLE: Perhaps your aging loved one is in need of a special medication that isn’t regularly carried at the pharmacy. A geriatric care manager may be able to help you find which pharmacy does carry the medication. This way you would avoid having to call all the pharmacies in search of one that can help.
Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes it isn’t a matter of someone not wanting to help, but not knowing what they can do. If you find yourself in this position, a good thing to do is just jump in and help where you can. Your other family member may not be able to think of ways for you to help as they are elbow deep in daily care for your aging loved one. Instead of asking “What can I do?”; it may be more beneficial to offer to do something that is your strong point. Such as “Would you like me to set up bill pay for you?
How to Share the Caregiver Burden for Aging Adults without Children
Not all aging adults have children to help them with care. Many times, it is a spouse that takes on the role of care giver for an aging loved one. The spouse themselves are also aging and may have health issues as well.
This can be very dangerous, as they may find their own health suffering as they struggle to care for their spouse. A staggering 30% of aging adults caring for their spouse pass before the one they are caring for.
If they do not have children that can help support them while caring for their ill spouse, you may want to reach out to other family such as a niece or nephew. They may even want to call on a neighbor, friend or someone from church that is trusted.
Another great option is in home care. This would allow them to remain independent at home, while also getting a much needed break. For more about in home care, click HERE.