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8 Rules for New Caregivers

6. Hold family meetings. Schedule them regularly, and bring in distant family by phone. Choose a neutral party to moderate if necessary. Draw up a clear agenda for each meeting, and agree on rules of conduct — for instance, don't interrupt, stick to time limits, avoid argument and focus the discussion on how to care for your parents. If meetings tend to be contentious, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to run the meeting.

7. Involve your children. When you have parents and children who need your time and attention, you may feel pulled from both sides. Be honest with your children about the situation, and listen to their concerns. Encourage their questions, and answer them thoroughly. Carve out time for fun activities, and request your children's help. Teenagers can drive Grandma to the store, and even a toddler can make her feel loved.

8. Talk to your spouse. Have a discussion with your partner about your caregiving responsibilities.What role do you expect him or her to play? Suggest specific ways your spouse can help, and show appreciation for his or her efforts. Recognize that your responsibilities affect your spouse, and encourage him or her to talk about any frustrations. Your relationship is a priority — keep it that way.

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