by Joy Loverde
The American family has changed. With people living longer, it’s possible for families to consist of more adult members than children. Busier people and dual-career couples also mean fewer people are staying home during the day and into the night.
We spend most of our time at work, at school, and at play. Out of necessity, and as a way to stay connected, we’ve created extended families though hospitals, schools, and churches. We also look to where we work for help when we need it. Corporate America more and more is offering work-life programs in an attempt to help fill in the gaps of what used to take place within the confines of our homes – concierge-type services, child care and everything in-between.
There’s more physical distance between family members with many of us living hundreds of miles apart from each other. Undoubtedly, the family unit has evolved into something very different than it was in the past.
If you are caring for an aging parent, spouse, partner or other elderly loved one now is the time for you to expand your definition of “caregiving.” Too often, the people who are giving the care have rigid beliefs on who does what as well as how the care should be implemented. Making hasty statements like, “My mother will never go to a nursing home!” and taking pride in not asking others to pitch in will surely get the best of you. Unrealistic goals and unhealthy attitudes can sabotage the caregiving process.
When we come face-to-face with our own limitations and can’t provide the kind of care we wish we could, we feel it’s our own fault. The truth is we may not be the most qualified person to take on all of the caregiving responsibilities all of the time. Limitations of relationships, time, stamina, and skill dictate how much help we can realistically offer.
You cannot assist your elder alone; you will need help. One of the most important caregiving tasks is creating formal and informal support networks made up of family, friends, volunteers, and professionals.
My book, The Complete Eldercare Planner (Random House, 2009, Revised and Updated) is your roadmap through the family caregiving experience and is an invaluable resources as you begin to create a network of people who will help with eldercare and your family caregiving responsibilities.
Start the process of creating a care team by downloading the following forms from Chapter Two in The Complete Eldercare Planner http://www.elderindustry.com/downloads.html
- Geriatric Case Manager Checklist
- Hiring In-home Helpers Checklist
- Paid Care Provider Work Agreement
- Creating a Care Team Action Checklist