Caring for Caregivers

Taking care of elderly parents is a rewarding – and demanding – responsibility. 

AARP’s CARECONNECTION, a resource specifically designed to help and support caregivers, offers the following strategies:

  • Include your parents in all actions and discussions regarding their care, unless they are severely incapacitated. Be sure to establish limits so that they don’t have unrealistic expectations.
  • Solicit help from family and friends, as well as distant relatives, friends of your parents, neighbors and community organizations. It’s hard to ask for help, but having a sizeable group of people allows them to give to the caregiver by taking on small tasks. 
  • Sit down with your parents and make a list or schedule of what needs to be done and who will take on each responsibility. Create a backup plan.  Give everyone who will be helping a copy of the schedule to avoid issues.
  • If someone turns down a request for help, suggest other tasks. For example, an out-of-state sibling can help with paying bills, researching local agencies, and phone visits.  Helpers with small children can occasionally cook and bring meals and bring the children to visit.
  • Look into civic organizations, churches and school volunteer groups for services they provide for seniors. Some may offer free home repairs, transportation, adult daycare or companion programs. 
  • Regular family meetings are important. Gather those directly involved in the caregiving and have a clear agenda for each meeting.  Openly discuss health or housing concerns as they occur to avoid problems later.
  • Don’t neglect your marriage. Remember that your role as a caregiver also affects your partner.  Encourage him/her to talk about their feelings.  Make an effort to spend quality time together.  Ask your partner to help with certain tasks; be specific and don’t forget to say thank you. 
  • Talk honestly with your children about the situation and listen to their concerns. Make time to have fun with them.  Ask them if they would like to help.  Even very young children can make your parents feel loved.  Older children can help with yard work or driving their grandparents to the store.


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