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Home For The Holidays: Ask Yourself Some Questions
Annie easily slipped into becoming the sole caregiver of her parents. What started out as monthly grocery shopping for them, over the course of 2 years became a full time duty, an overwhelming burden and just about broke her emotionally and financially.
They say that itís good that primary caregivers donít know what to expect or they would not enter into the situation. That is only true if they arenít honest with themselves and with others, donít research the many options and review the abundant material now available to families. Not everyone can take on the responsibility for any number of reasons. So potential caregivers of aging parents should ask themselves the following questions as the need for care and assistance begins to grow:
Gather the important people who participate in caring for the aging adult, then agree upon the specific roles that each person will play. Be honest about what you're able to give -- for example, will you give more time or money?
Get the emotional support you received from your parents in the past in other ways.
Talk with friends who are in similar situations. Join a caregiver support group.
If you're sharing the caregiving tasks with siblings, keep the lines of communication open.
Send each other progress reports.
Finally, find ways to have more fun with an aging or disabled adult for whom you feel responsible or love. Try to spend YOUR time doing things that will be most appreciated. Hire out house maintenance tasks, like lawn care and snow removal. Use a companion service for light housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping and errands. Spend your time doing things WITH rather than FOR the older adult. Professional organizations can help with the mundane tasks so you can spend more quality time looking through photo albums, writing letters to out of town family, taking the grandkids to the park, or sharing a cup of tea.
Begin your journey of caregiving by defining preferences, plans and roles prior to being confronted and swept up by crises.
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