A good way to start the discussion is for group members to share their experiences as caregivers and/or their expectations about becoming caregivers. This will help frame the conversation.
1. Regardless of how common it is for a family to be providing care to an older relative, adult children often feel anxious about how to get their older parents to think about, much less to talk about, their eventual need for care.
- Have you had this discussion with your parents? How did you break the ice?
- What insights or techniques did you gain from the book that might help you frame your questions to get positive responses?
2. Caregiving is most often a family affair. Despite how much each member may have matured over the years, long-held labels, such as “the responsible one,” “the favorite,” or “the hothead,” are often tested or put into play during a caregiving experience. Family roles do not need to limit what each member can do if everyone tries to have an open mind.
- Have past family dynamics entered into your caregiving experience? Do you anticipate they will?
- What insights does the book offer that would help you and your siblings build from old relationships to create new roles based on new circumstances?
3. Caregivers must often advocate on behalf of an older family member. The book offers several tips and checklists to help you talk with medical professionals, organize important documents, and know when financial or legal help is needed.
- While reading the book, did you have any “ah ha” moments, or times when you identified where the practical information would come in handy? What was the valuable insight?
- Are there any lessons learned about what you should be doing?
4. The family member doing the majority of hands-on care for the loved one may be reluctant to seek or accept help from others. Some feel guilty about leaving loved ones with anyone else or fear that loved ones might not be willing to let others come in and care for them.
- As a caregiver, have you been reluctant to seek help with caregiving duties? Do you anticipate this will be a problem in your family? What types of issues or family circumstances stand between you and getting help?
5. While rewarding, caregiving can be a highly stressful,physically and emotionally exhausting experience. Caregivers need to make themselves a priority.
- Do you have built in stress relievers in your day or week (such as meditation or talking with someone)? Share your favorites. Are they enough? How can you add time for yourself into your schedule while keeping up with your responsibilities?
- Do you think that caregiving has affected your own health? Have you mentioned your experience with your doctor?
6. Personal finances are an important aspect of caregiving and may affect your parents’ ability to pay for care and services.
- Have you discussed with your parents the types of care they would want? Do you know whether this care is available in your community? Do you know what it would cost and whether their finances will cover it, and for how long?
7. Grief can enrich your understanding and deepen your feelings for the people and things around you, but it’s not easy. The book discusses the idea of “grieving well.” One suggestion is to establish rituals or memorials you can visit or practice. You might continue to remember your loved one by enjoying an ice cream cone in their honor on their birthday or by planting trees in their name.
- Do you have any rituals or ways you remember loved ones who have died? Are there any faith-based or cultural rituals you’ve found especially meaningful?