Caring for an elderly parent can be overwhelming. Caregivers average 20 hours a week on tasks to help keep their parents going. From helping to transport them to appointments, to getting the groceries, to helping with meal prep and household chores, the time and tasks really start to pile up as a parent declines.
In many families, the bulk of the caregiving seems to fall to one of the children; usually the oldest daughter. But, while it’s most often daughters who end up dealing with the day-to-day care tasks, many sons find themselves handling the finances (though it is clearly not always this way).
But often, in some families, there is one sibling, or more, that seems to always have a reason to be unable to help. This can be a contributing factor to caregiver burnout.
So ask yourself if you, or someone in your family, are playing one of the excuse cards.
1. Top of the list is: I don’t have time. This somehow insinuates that the ‘primary’ caregiver does have the time which may or may not be true. Caregivers who have jobs and families can put their own financial futures at risk by taking on all of the caregiving. And though it may appear that the primary caregiver has the time, more often it is a case of them having made the time (sometimes sacrificing a great deal to do so).
2. Next up: I don’t have the money. While money might provide you with the opportunity to pay for some in-home care services to help alleviate the strain, there are many other things that can help lighten the load (and don’t require money!). Perhaps that sibling can become the point person for bookkeeping task and oversight of medical insurance and Medicare issues. Lifting these tasks from a primary caregiver can help a great deal. Not just because it frees up time, but it also makes the caregiver feel as though they are supported and not in this alone!
3. To round out the top 3 excuses: I can’t bear to see Mom like that. Nobody likes to see their parents decline, emphasis on the NOBODY! That means the caregiver too. Many of the things that caregivers end up having to help their parents with, toileting, bathing and dressing, can be very uncomfortable for them. But they do it anyway because it needs to be done. They step out of their comfort zone, so why can’t others? And, yes, there is sadness in having to do these tasks for the one that did them for you, but there can also be great reward in that caregiving.
So whether you are the caregiver hearing these excuses or the sibling offering them, I encourage you to find a way to do this together. The caregiver may need to ask for more help (and be persistent). The sibling may need to step out of their comfort zone and find ways to help. A collaborative effort will go a long way in helping to prevent caregiver burnout!
On the journey with you…….Kathy
Kathy Eynon is an Eldercare Coach and Consultant that works with those struggling to cope with the demands of caring for an aging parent. She can be reached by email at: Kathy@ParentCareAlliance.com.