Caring for an aging parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but the more care your aging parent needs, the more support you are going to need. Since it’s likely that you are not only caring for parents, but also raising children or grandchildren and working part or full time, your plate is more than full, it’s overflowing. Organizing a care circle for your aging parents can help prevent you from suffering from caregiver burnout, a common occurrence among adult caregivers.
When you are caring for an aging parent whose needs and reliance on you increase over time, you need to recognize when the burden becomes too heavy. It is not something to feel guilty about; it isn’t possible to do everything for someone else and still maintain your own health and well-being. By recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout early, you can implement strategies that will help you be there for your aging parent and still be able to live your own life.
The Internet and care circles
One of the most remarkable strategies that has been developed for caregivers is a Care Circle. A care circle can involve two or more people who team up to share information and provide whatever type of support is needed, from contact phone calls, to helping with paperwork and bill payment, grocery shopping. With social networking sites like Lotsa Helping Hands, Google Groups, MySpace and Facebook, keeping in touch, organizing and communicating the needs of your aging parent to your care circle is easier than ever.
Particularly if you’re acting as a caregiver to enable your aging parent to remain at home and not be placed in some kind of long-term care facility, a care circle can go a long way to reducing stress by allowing for delegation of and help with the myraid of tasks that need to be done and by providing you with support. You can even include long-distance relatives and friends who are willing to provide emotional support to both the aging parent and the caregivers. In fact, long-distance members of your care circle can be a lifesaver when it comes to filling in the gaps and checking in on your aging parent, giving you a much-needed break. It also helps distant friends and relatives feel as though they are able to do something to contribute to the care of a loved one even though they cannot be right there.
Organizing the care circle
To organize a care circle, you can begin by talking to your family, friends and those of your aging parent. Tell them that you are supporting your parent’s desire to age in home, and enlist their help. Some members of your care circle may be able to provide transportation for your aging parent to and from medical appointments; others may be able to provide occasional meals and companionship; still others may be able to make regular phone check-ins or stop by on a regular schedule to say hello, bring in the mail, or do chores around the house.
To make a care circle work efficiently, all members should be connected using e-mail or a social networking site that allows you to build a special group. You will be surprised by the number of people willing to help out once they know there is a need, and you will be amazed by how much of your stress will be relieved by not having to bear the entire burden on your own.