“I’m doing more than my siblings are.”
That statement is the number one complaint of caregivers, according to Amy Goyer, the AARP’s family and caregiving expert and author of Juggling Life, Work, and Caregiving (American Bar Association, 2015).
Very often, the responsibility of caregiving falls on one relative’s shoulders simply because they live nearby or don’t work full-time. But caring for an aging parent can quickly become overwhelming if it’s one person’s responsibility.
Other family members assume that the primary caregiver can handle it, that they have time for it, and that they don’t mind helping out. This may be true! Nevertheless, if it’s all one person’s responsibility, all the time, it can lead to stress, burnout, and resentment.
Caregiving is a difficult job and is best handled by multiple people. Divide caregiving tasks among family to ensure your loved one is cared for while everyone stays happy.
Here are 10 helpful tips on how to share caregiving responsibilities with family. (Yes, even your family can work it out successfully!)
1. Call a family meeting.
The first step towards sharing caregiving responsibilities is to call everyone together and have a calm, open discussion. The goal of the meeting should be set from the start. For example, we’re meeting today to divide caregiving tasks among the entire family. Or, we’re meeting today to hear how everyone can pitch in caring for Mom.
Keep the atmosphere pleasant. Schedule the meeting at a relaxed time for everyone, and bring food and drinks. Remind everyone that the goal is teamwork, not strife.
2. Include long-distance relatives.
“Not living in the same area” was the second most common reason people give when asked why they did not help with caregiving (Alzheimer’s Association).
Family members who live too far to attend the meeting in person can take advantage of technology like Zoom or Skype to join.
They may be surprised to discover that they can help by
● Staying in touch with their aging loved one and providing a listening ear
● Arranging professional care or hiring caregivers
● Pitching in financially (managing the finances or giving money)
● Researching relevant health problems online
● Making phone calls and arranging appointments
3. Don’t make assumptions.
It’s important to keep an open line of communication and ask for help when you need it.
Perhaps siblings are taking a back seat because they believe the primary caregiver is best equipped to handle the situation, or that the caregiver has it all under control.
Instead of assuming everything is fine, ask if there’s anything not being taken care of that you can help with.
4. Involve professionals.
It can be worthwhile for family members to hear how valuable their help is from a professional. A home healthcare agency like Passion to Care can provide you with a geriatrician, social worker, or other experts to explain the situation gently and clearly.
5. Understand that it’s not all or nothing.
Even the smallest amount of help makes a difference to the primary caregiver. If someone can’t come to care for Mom three days a week, perhaps they can give respite to another caregiver for an hour or two. Remember, even if you can provide just a small amount of help, it’s still appreciated.
6. Don’t make them feel guilty.
Relatives are likely feeling guilty if they aren’t helping care for the senior in the family. Poking at their guilt will only cause them to become defensive. Be careful in presenting the request for help – show them how it’s an opportunity to be part of the family and make a difference, not a blame-game.
7. Consider each person’s strengths and limits.
When dividing caregiving tasks among siblings or family members, consider each person’s strengths and limitations.
Who is the best at repairing appliances or changing light bulbs? Who is the best friendly companion? Who owns a car? Who has time for errands? Who is the best relative to speak to medical professionals?
Divide up the tasks according to what suits each person’s character, availability, and resources they can spare.
8. Clearly distribute responsibilities.
Whichever way your family decides to give out the caregiving responsibilities, it is crucial that everyone clearly understands their roles. Double-check that everyone knows when, where, and how to carry out their tasks. This will avoid forgotten errands or missed appointments and minimize resentment and confusion.
9. Keep everyone updated.
Usually, the primary caregiver is most aware of their loved one’s medical, financial, and emotional situation. It’s likely that if family members were aware of how much care the senior needs, they would jump at the chance to help. Keep everyone updated on the medical and financial situation so that when more help is needed, they’ll get right to it.
10. Plan for future changes.
As the recipient of care ages or their illness progresses, so will their care needs. Educate everyone involved on your senior loved one’s condition and how it’s likely to progress. For example, make them aware that your aging loved one will soon need a live-in caregiver or perhaps need to make more visits to specialists. Create a plan for the future together.
You Don’t Need to Do It Alone
No matter the family dynamics or illness, there’s a way to successfully divvy up caregiving tasks among capable family members. And when you share the responsibility happily, there is nothing more beautiful than family caring for family.
Need help approaching your family members about caregiving? Reach out to us Passion To Care, and we’ll connect you with trained, kind professionals.
We treat each client to a rare combination of old-school care and next-generation technologies. Whether covered by insurance, Medicaid, or personal funds, our members enjoy all the comforts, dignities, and wellness advances everyone deserves.
Contact us and we’ll provide you with the answers and support you need.