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Strategies to Simplify Caregiving Responsibilities

Caring for an aging parent on top of the many other day-to-day family, work and financial obligations you have can be challenging.  Simplifying those responsibilities benefits everyone involved by ensuring that:
     
  • Caregivers have time for themselves
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  • The aging parent’s needs are met with as little confusion and interruption as possible
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  • Everyone knows his or her role in the caregiving process
 
Six steps for simplifying caregiving suggested by the Alzheimer’s Association, apply for anyone in a caregiving situation:
     
  1. Identify needs
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  3. Establish support contacts
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  5. Make the most of visits
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  7. Think before moving a loved one into your home
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  9. Decide if the best way to care for a loved one is in a facility
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  11. Resolve family conflicts
 
Identifying needs
As your parents age, you need to keep a sort of vigil on their ability to manage the tasks of independent living.  Some older people might be great at caring for their homes and personal needs, but might completely neglect bill paying.  Can Mom or Dad still get around?  Can they still drive?  Do they have a network of friends who provide needed companionship and support? Some parents might sound as if they are faring well when you speak with them on the phone, but a visit to their homes might uncover some surprising issues. 
 
Establish support contacts
Simplifying caregiving means taking advantage of the support services available to you and your aging relative.  The government’s ElderCare Locator website provides an excellent directory of eldercare services available in one’s local communitiy. Also look to home health care, other family members, friends and neighbors, medical personnel, religious or community organizations, and such agencies such as Meals on Wheels and transportation providers to develop a care circle to provide support.  Geriatric care managers are also excellent resources for help.
 
Make the most of visits
Even if you live near your aging parents, it’s nearly impossible to spend as much time with them as you might like.  Still, there are several things you can do to maximize your time together.  Make sure that your visits include connecting with friends, neighbors and healthcare providers to gather information about how your loved one is doing.  This will help you make decisions about managing the care of your aging parent.
 
Moving a loved one Into your home
Removing an aging parent from his or her home and into your own home can be confusing and stressful for everyone involved.  It’s important to determine not only if your home is the right environment for the individual, but also whether you and your family are prepared to take on the full-time demands of caregiving. 

Caring for a loved one in a facility
Placing a parent or aging relative into a care facility is a big decision.  And, although doing so eases much of the burden of caring for the day-to-day needs of an elder, you still need to take an active role in caregiving.  It’s important to network with the people who provide care for your aging relative to ensure that all of his or her needs are being met.

Resolve family conflicts
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Caregiving issues can often ignite or magnify family conflicts, especially when people cope differently with caregiving responsibilities.” Family members can reduce tension by communicating their own needs while addressing the needs of their loved one.


     
  • Caring for an aging parent or relative can be demanding and stressful.
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  • It’s important to take advantage of such resources as community and aging organizations, friends and family members and paid professionals to develop a network of caregivers, or care circle.
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  • The family tensions that sometimes develop as a result of caring for aging parents can be resolved if everyone communicates effectively.