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9 Ways to Make Caregiving Easier

Do's and don'ts to keep things running smoothly

  • Don't suffer in silence. If you feel you're taking on more than you can manage, let your siblings and other family members know. No one can read your mind and others may not realize that you're overwhelmed or even know how much you're doing. Tell them — calmly, without accusation or blame. Spell out what they can do: grocery shopping, driving to medical appointments, covering your carpool day, or even treating you to dinner and a movie.

See also: Hiring a home care worker.

  • Do stay organized. Create a master contact list (names, phone numbers, emails) of nearby friends, neighbors, doctors, faith leaders, housing managers or apartment front-desk staff, and the local pharmacist, who can be reached in the event of an emergency. Give this to all family members and post a copy where everyone in the house can see it.
  • Don't feel guilty if you don't live nearby. Regret weighs heavily on long-distant caregivers, who often shift their schedules, miss work, spend huge amounts of money and time on travel, plus hours talking to doctors and financial experts. This is not your fault. Hire a geriatric care manager you trust to help coordinate local care services; you can find someone through the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Additionally, there are several services that can help alert you if your parent isn't active during the day. Your local post office may have a free Carrier Alert program, where letter carriers will notify you or a designated agency when mail hasn't been picked up. Many local agencies telephone isolated people daily to check on their well being. New technology can alert you if your parent hasn't been moving around the house.
  • Do join a support group. Online or in your community. Every caregiver needs a talking buddy to listen while she vents. Even better are those who have been there, done that. Support groups can give you guidance, tips and solace. So can friends and co-workers who have been down this road. So if you need help, or someone to hug, ask.

Next: Delegate and get the rest you need. »

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