3 Family Caregiver “Rules” to Break with Confidence
We see it every day at Elder Advisory Group. A family realizes their mom or dad can no longer take care of themselves and someone in the family needs to take on the role of caregiver. All too often it’s the daughter or daughter-in-law, sister or a granddaughter who offers to assume the role as the rest of the family breathes a collective sigh of relief.
So, why is that? Who says women are the automatic gender for such work? I can tell you from our collective 40-plus years of experience as Aging Life Care Professionals® there are many reasons why this is not always the best solution.
For one thing, caring for an aging parent or loved one is a tremendous responsibility that can take more time than any one person—male or female—can devote to the tasks without compromising their own physical and mental health. For another, if we’re going to be honest, some parents are just…difficult. Many parent-daughter or other family relationships are challenging enough without adding this new stress to the mix. Even the most amiable family relations can be strained when well-meaning intentions aren’t backed by experience, training or time – not to mention the extra patience and diplomatic skills needed!
Eye-opening Facts and Tips for Changing Rules and Assumptions
I’d like to share some of the assumptions that many families tend to make when they first meet our team. I also offer my advice and encouragement to consider breaking the “rules” of family caregiving for the benefit of everyone involved, including the loved one at the heart of the matter.
- Women are naturally better caregivers than men. Nearly 75% of all caregivers in the U.S. are female. They spend almost as much time handling caregiving tasks as they do at a full-time job outside the home, which they’re also likely to have, along with kids to raise. None of these facts makes women better at the job of family caregiving for an aging parent than men. The growing number of involved and excellent stay-at-home dads or task-sharing partners is proof positive that old gender rules need no longer apply.
- You can’t say no to your parents. Aging parents or family members can be lovely, gracious people. Or not. For all kinds of reasons, from ill health or declining mental capacities, to simply having perfected an inconsiderate personality over time, some parents are unpleasant, bossy, and demanding! We’re here to tell you, it’s OK to say no sometimes and vital to set boundaries to suit your needs. Sharing is caring, and by that, I mean, find the strength to ask for help from others. Which leads me to this next popular misconception.
- The family caregiver must do it all. This common assumption is so misguided. No one man, woman, or child can do it all. Fundamental to our Smart Aging™ approach, an experienced care manager helps assess the concerns and guides the family to a plan that addresses the needs of the older adult and concerns of the family. With a focus on the short term as well as the future, the care manager identifies resources, options, and strategies to save time, stress and money. She also helps harness the energy and goodwill of the family by providing suggestions for schedules, shared tasks and options. Strategic planning helps avoid the inevitable resentment of one person feeling overburdened.
Elder Advisory Group can help serve as your quarterback in these challenging family situations. Please call us at 713-624-4288 for a free phone consultation if you are dealing with similar care challenges. Providing great support for your aging parent or loved one is not easy, but there are proven ways to ease the load so you don’t have to do it alone. For more information: www.elderadvisorygroup.com