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How to Manage Your Caregiving Duties

Independent Living expert Elinor Ginzler hosts an online chat and answers your pressing questions

Comment From Margaret: How do I get a durable power of attorney? My husband is no longer able to sign his name.

Elinor Ginzler: Margaret, I'm sorry to say, it's probably too late. Powers of attorney can only be created if the person is still capable of making decisions. In the worst case scenario you might have to pursue guardianship. If so, you'll need a lawyer. Best of luck.

Comment From Valerian: I became my mother's caregiver 14 years ago. My mom was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. None of her other adult children have ever helped my mom. Now my health is failing and I am worried about my mom's welfare if I am no longer able to care for her. I am at my wit's end because I chose not to have a life after I became my mother's caregiver. I am here for my mother 24/7. She refuses all medical help and I am not ready to open my home to outside caregivers. Mom is almost 80. I suggested adult centers for a two- to four-hour break but she stubbornly refused to go. Support groups help sometimes, but it is hard for me to share every thought or feeling with a group or social worker. Besides taking a six-month vacation on Maui — ALONE — could you give me some realistic suggestions? I currently can't afford Maui for even a week. Thank you very much.

Visit our Health home page to find the latest health care news and tips.

Elinor Ginzler: Valerian, it sounds like you are dealing with an awful lot. I'm not sure if you can be there for your mother 24/7. Does she have other friends who might be able to help? And perhaps, she needs a professional to let her know she needs to accept some help.

Try talking to the doctor and think about using a geriatric care manager to engage with her.

Comment From Valerian: No. We moved out of state and it's just the two of us.

Elinor Ginzler: The elder care locator can help you find the aging office in your community. They will know about caregiver support programs in your community.

Next: Can't attend a caregiving support group in person? »

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Wendy Breiterman, director of Global Work Life Strategies at Johnson & Johnson, reflects on their initiative to offer flexibility for employees who are caregivers.

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