- GRIEF SUPPORT
- EVENTS & RESOURCES
- PHYSICIAN REFERRALS
Hope Hospice is publishing a five-part monthly series about common family caregiver mistakes. Following is Part 4. This series is written by Debbie Emerson, MS, Hope Hospice Community Health Educator.
Revisit Part 1: Not Planning in Advance
Revisit Part 2: Not Hiring In-Home Help
I’m the only one my husband trusts to provide care.
My family is scattered all over the country – how can they help with care when they’re so far away?
No one else can possibly understand what I’m going through.
My siblings can’t help me care for our father, but they’re the first to criticize what I’m doing.
I don’t trust anyone else to provide care for my mother — they may not do things the way I’d like; I’ll just have to fix the mistakes they make, so I might as well do it myself.
I’ve often heard these statements and others like them from family caregivers. Without a doubt, one of the most challenging aspects of providing care to a loved one is trying to work together with family members. The demands of caregiving can be staggering, but when you include the bickering and disagreements that tend to surface when family members interact, the task can be overwhelming.
When I was caring for my elderly mother in the last few years of her life, I created the false narrative that her care was my sole responsibility. Big mistake! In so doing, I found that not only did I assume an excessive amount of responsibility that would ultimately impact my own health, but there were two other critical factors that I failed to consider: (1) I was depriving Mom of receiving care from other family members and benefiting from their unique abilities and companionship; and (2) I was denying family members the opportunity to create positive memories and strengthen their relationship with Mom at the end of her life.
It took me awhile to realize that the key to successful caregiving was putting aside our differences and working together as a family unit to provide quality care for our loved ones.
I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned about optimizing family cooperation in the care of a loved one.
The shared caregiving experience in which your loved one’s needs become the top priority can make your family unit stronger. When you are able to accept and respect differing perspectives and put aside the rivalries and grievances from the past, you’ll be able to view your family members as allies, not adversaries.
Providing care for an elderly loved one is full of joys and sorrows. When your family is able to work cooperatively as a team with a common goal, everyone benefits: Your loved one will get the best care possible; as the primary caregiver, your role will be more manageable; and your family members will be able to experience the satisfaction and personal fulfillment that comes with caring for another. And, after your loved one has passed, hopefully this family bond will continue to grow as you support each other during the grieving and healing process and beyond.
Important note: With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact our lives, it’s important that everyone takes precautions to keep vulnerable individuals as safe as possible. Please follow all of the CDC guidelines regarding interaction with the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. You might also enjoy watching the recording of our webinar, Caregiving in the COVID Era.
Caregiving with Your Siblings, Family Caregiver Alliance
Holding a Family Meeting, Family Caregiver Alliance
Long-Distance Caregiving, National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health