Please welcome my good friend, Elizabeth Norton. She has some great tips to share with you today…
Until I met Christine, I would have figured I came from a big family. In reality, I am only the oldest of 4. I am not in the season of my parents needing my help, but I know many people my age are not only taking care of their own families but also caregiving.
Nearly 44 million Americans — 1 in 5 adults — are family caregivers for a relative or friend over age 50. Family caregiving often happens while we are in the prime of our working life, with children of our own relying on us too. I see this happening to my friends. I wish there was a way for me to help them. Many large families can be spread far and wide making caregiving an even harder obstacle. Being sandwiched with the roll of taking care of your parent’s demands can take its toll on our jobs, our families and our health. You have to take care of your siblings and yourself.
In honor of Father’s Day, I wrote this post with suggestion on how large families can come together to help with the care giving of our parents.
Talk: Do not wait for a hospitalization stay, a fall, accident, or serious diagnosis or another similar situation to get a game plan in order. One of the biggest mistakes is waiting until this moment to occur. Start the conversation. Get talking. This is hard but essential.
Bring the family together: I suggest creating a Facebook group, group text messages, or planning a conference call if your siblings live far away. Create a team. No sibling should approach the emotions and responsibilities of caregiving alone.
Create a game plan: Talk to your parents, as a group, and put together a caregiving plan. Give long distant family members responsibilities of researching looking online for support and to reach out to organizations and professionals with experience in caring for older people. Give local sibling responsibilities of taking shifts and assisting on a creating a schedule. A plan helps everyone get on the same page and keeps the focus on what’s best for your parents.
Don’t just take care of your parents, take care of each other: Give each other days off. Check in on each other. As a caregiver, it’s easy to forget about your own needs. But keeping up your energy and maintaining your health are critical in order to care for your parents.
Watching your parents get old is hard. But having a large family has it’s advantages. Not just one person has to carry the load.
Here are some other helpful links:
For Veterans – Caregiver Support
Father’s Day is a holiday of recalling memories and celebrating fatherhood. I decided to participate in the #ThanksDad AARP Blog post project because I felt preparation is key especially with big families and readers of From Dates to Diapers may be in this stage of life.
I know at times it may seem like your work may seem invisible. One thing that is sure to help is to remember to enjoy your family and say #thankyoudad for all of the things He did for you growing up.