How to Share Caregiving Duties Within Your Family

What is the best way to get your siblings involved in caregiving duties? And who do you reach out to if you’re an only child? Here’s all you need to know. Continue reading

Becoming a caregiver for a parent is no easy feat. Most people don’t consider this endeavor until they notice the first signs of their parents’ aging. Sooner than you expected, you begin researching memory issues or how to carry out your caregiving duties.

To be honest, caregivers are all too often in a reactive state, dealing with new and unexpected crises on a daily basis. Putting out fires is stressful and exhausting, and it can lead to caregiver burnout. Planning ahead is a much healthier, more effective way to overcome challenges and provide your elderly parent with the care they deserve.

If committing to new responsibilities sounds daunting, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to do it alone. In this article, we will go over some helpful techniques on:

i) How to talk to siblings about aging parents and the delicate caregiving duties they should assist with;
ii) Who to reach out to if you are an only child;
iii) How aging in place technology can assist.

Your Checklist of Caregiver Duties for Elderly Care

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Aging in place is a preference and priority for most people over the age of 50, according to a recent survey by the AARP.

Living independently can be a blessing for both the senior and their loved ones. However, this lifestyle can put a strain on the family who feels obligated to ensure the safety and well-being of the aging parent.

Before we discuss how to get your family members on board with sharing various responsibilities, we need to figure out what caregiving duties you have ahead of you. Here is a quick checklist of some of the most important issues to consider:

1) First and foremost, you need to talk to your parent about their needs, fears, and priorities — be patient and understanding if they get uncomfortable or dismissive;
2) Make sure your parent’s legal affairs and finances are in order — including a valid will and a power of attorney;
3) Create a list with all the important information on your parent’s health. Keep it handy, so that emergency crews can find it too in case of an accident;
4) Maintain a list of important phone numbers (relatives, neighbors, and professionals) in a notebook or a Google spreadsheet. Put the most important ones on your parent’s speed dial;
5) Research and calculate the long-term care costs;
6) Decide who the primary caregiver will be — this is usually the person who lives closest to the senior and can act quickly in an emergency;
7) Research aging-in-place technology and look into systems that can help alleviate some of the burdens, such as a senior care app that monitors vital signs.

How to Talk to Siblings About Aging Parents — And Get Them to Help

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As the saying goes, it takes a village to care for an elderly person. There are many reasons why having someone to share the workload with is beneficial.

To begin with, knowing you’re not alone in this new and unpredictable endeavor can relieve a lot of the stress. Second, you may notice that when it comes to certain issues, your parent may be more responsive to your brother or sister than to you. It doesn’t matter if they trust their opinion more on a particular topic or if your sibling has honed their negotiation skills — what matters is that you and your sibling complement each other.

Working with family, however, is not as simple and straightforward as it appears.

For example, you may have opposing views on your parent’s health. What concerns you may appear to be an exaggeration to them. Additionally, when facing a stressful situation, you may notice dormant childhood conflicts resurfacing, like feeling the need to compete with each other. In such cases, you must both try to be patient and considerate of your feelings. Focus on your common goal, remember that you need each other, and that your parents need you as well.

With that in mind, here are some practical considerations in sharing caregiver duties for elderly loved ones:

1. Discuss what tasks each of you can commit to. Be specific.

Even if everyone is busy or has their own families to care for, they should be able to handle certain tasks from a distance.

If you are the primary caregiver, you will know exactly what you require assistance with, and it is essential to be specific when discussing it with your siblings. Don’t just say, “I need help,” but rather, “I need someone to check on our mother over the weekend” or “I need someone to handle their bills.”

When discussing with your siblings about caregiver duties for elderly parents, make sure you do so in a calm environment, when there are no pressing issues to address.

2. Don’t assume what they can and can’t do.

It’s natural to believe that if someone can afford a certain lifestyle for themselves, they can also help others, particularly close family. However, assumptions are often incorrect.

It is best to communicate our options and level of investment honestly and transparently. We should also make an effort to find solutions when faced with personal limitations — don’t take the easy way out.

3. Accept some compromise.

When working with others, it’s best not to criticize someone if they perform a task differently than you would. What matters is the end result, and you must allow some freedom — even to make mistakes.

4. Consider financial compensation.

Spending hours each day caring for someone means making sacrifices in other areas, such as leaving work earlier or postponing other responsibilities. The truth is, it can take a toll on informal (unpaid) caregivers. Programs like Medicare do not pay for long-term services, unfortunately.

If a sibling wants to help more but is concerned that it would affect their financial situation, then your family inner circle can perhaps set up a payment plan and legal agreement. That way, you provide the relief required for them to be more involved in caring for your parent, as well as avoid burnout.

How to Share Caregiving Duties if You Are an Only Child

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Even if you are an only child, you have options as a primary caregiver, so don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to relatives, friends, and professionals as soon as possible.

1) Find community services. CBSS (community-based supports and services) are meant to help older adults remain in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. They can provide educational programs, counseling, assistance with finances, home safety, and more.

For example, the Family Caregiver Alliance can assist you in finding local service and resources.

2) Ask trustworthy neighbors and friends for help – give them small and specific tasks.

3) Involve your partner or spouse – the effective communication tips we provided earlier on how to talk to siblings about aging parents will help here as well.

4) Hire aides – ultimately, the most obvious solution may prove to be the most reliable: hire a geriatric care manager to regularly visit and help your parent.

Assisting Technology: CareAlert’s Elderly Monitoring System and Senior Care App

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Image: CareAlert

Whether you already have a strong support system in place or are learning how to become a caregiver for a parent, additional help is always welcome — even if it comes from a small device.

Senior care has come a long way since the emergency wristbands and cameras were introduced in the 1970s. With the dramatic increase in the aging population and the desire to age in place, developing more effective devices is required to compensate for the scarce human resources. To that end, AI and machine learning devices are paving the way for a more responsible society, one in which we prioritize our loved ones’ health and well-being without invading their privacy.

When it comes to safety, accessibility, and discretion, CareAlert’s elderly monitoring system can be your reliable assistant when you are not physically present for your loved one.

The system is designed to benefit both the caregiver and the senior. One component of the system consists of one or more well-being sensors that you can install in your loved one’s primary living spaces. The device also functions as motion-activated night light to create a safer environment, and it uses intercom technology to allow you to check-in or record reminders.

The other component is a machine-learning senior care app that interprets data 24 hours a day. You can use the app to stay updated on their living conditions (such as temperature, air quality, and daily habits) without intruding. If the system detects unusual activity, you will be prompted to check on your parent. For example, if your mother has a specific morning routine like taking prescription medication, you will be aware of any disruption in her activities. The device works by analyzing and learning the senior’s movement and habits, without ever recording any audio or video.

One of the most useful aspects of this senior care app is the ability to invite other family members to the wellness dashboard and receive updates on your loved one. Up to five caregivers can stay connected on the platform, making it easier to assign caregiving duties among you and your siblings.

Lastly, if you are concerned that older people are more resistant to new aging in place technology, you can rest assured knowing that the majority of them want to make their living environment safer. According to the survey mentioned earlier, 48 percent of seniors want to invest in smart-home devices and 61 percent are aware they should use an emergency response system of some kind.

Final Thoughts

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Image: CareAlert

It is never too early to begin planning for your elderly parent’s future and well-being. Committing to caregiving responsibilities before they become an emergency will save you a lot of trouble. For your peace of mind, we recommend that you contact your siblings or other family members right away and develop a plan of action.

We hope that by following the advice in this article you will deal with fewer emergencies and spend more quality time with your parents. Apart from becoming a caregiver for a parent, now is the time to make wonderful new memories with your mother and father and encourage them to enjoy their retirement to the fullest.

Do you want to learn more about how the CareAlert elderly monitoring system can help you give your aging parent the best care possible? Write to us at support@sensorscall.com about any question you may have and we will happily address it.

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