Redeem Time by Spending a Little of It

Many of you are or have been a family caregiver. Many know someone who is. Often we want to be an encouragement but do not know what to say or where to begin.

The fact is that 3 out of 4 family caregivers who care for someone over the age of 18 either work now or have been working while providing care. Two thirds have had to either give up their jobs of made adjustments to their work life. One in five family caregivers had to take a leave of absence.

Family caregivers spend an average of 20 hours a week caring for their loved ones. Many provide 40 hours a week or more. Often they get overloaded and stressed out when they are not aware of helps available to them. A person caring enough to meet another’s needs often feels a need to be personally involved in all aspects of care.

What needs to happen to ease the burden and lighten the load? Hopefully, this article will give encouragement to you or provide you an opportunity to help another along the way.

I have learned two great lessons through my caregiving years:

  1. I cannot do everything myself, physically, mentally, or emotionally. Like so many women, I feel it is my responsibility to see a task finished, no matter how difficult. I know in my own mind, I just need to work a little harder or a little wiser—to simply buckle up and do it all.
  2. It is worth my time to learn what others are doing in my situation and to explore options. I recall being already cramped for any extra time and thinking it was absurd to stop to look at a website or read someone’s books. However, as I did take (make) time to see what others were doing; I was amazed at the help available to me.

With that in mind, I want to share one of my favorite websites for helpful ideas and solutions from those who have been there. Some offer a safe place to chat with other caregivers as well as give information and guidance.

This week we will explore This online resource has undergone some upgrades recently; there are many free articles, videos, e-books and helps as well as leisure activities and a safe place to share your concerns and ask questions.  (I was honored to have a few of my articles included in their Gift Book series.)

Caregivers often feel isolated; as if they are the only one facing their particular dilemma and see no solution. It is refreshing to read another’s struggles and learn how they dealt with the same issues. I found many ideas, helpful hints, and real helps for my daily journey.  Not the least of the benefit was knowing I could contact compassionate, encouraging people who really did understand what I was going through because many had been there.

It isn’t just having someone to share our stress or questions with, we need someone who will understand how blessed we can feel even though we are often tired and strung out. Only one who has been there will understand the feeling of kissing that loved one at night and seeing a slight twinkle in their eyes as they struggle to respond.

I am blessed to have you as a friend; I look forward to visiting with you soon.

Tips for Siblings Caring for Aging Parents

What makes a family caregiver? Training? Experience? Need? Probably all of the above at one time or another. Many become caregivers because someone in the family, quite often an elderly parent has a need and we are the likely ones called upon to meet it.

If you missed last week’s article, click here for more information. We looked at three siblings who were called on due to an emergency to provide 24-hour care for their parents. This week I hope to give some tips that will help others before committing to be a caregiver.

#1. Take time to honestly evaluate the situation. Is this really a short-term need or could it evolve into a year-long commitment or more?

#2. If it looks like a long-term commitmenet, is it really best to have them stay in their home? Would an assisted living facility better provide their needs? Have you talked with them about all the options?

#3. Even if you are ready to jump in and help, how will it effect your family? Is your spouse supportive of this arrangement? Do you have small children to consider? (Note, it isn’t just “small” children; sometimes our teens are the most needy of a strong parent to guide them.)

#4. Consider the needs of the parent’s; physical, mental, and material. Will you be able to keep up with the needs?

#5. Talk with the other siblings involved. THIS IS OF MAJOR IMPORTANCE. Be sure each child understands what will be needed from each one.

#6. Decide up front who will be in charge, who will be the go-to person if decisions are to be made and there is confusion. Who will be the one responsible to make the final decision?

#7. Outline the daily and weekly needs of the home. Who will be doing the shopping? Who will be in charge of the kitchen?

#8. If there is a yard to keep or outside responsibilies, which child is best suited for that? Who will be the outside go-to person to avoid conflicts later?