Being a caretaker is formidable. It’s challenging physically and emotionally, it often creates financial problems, and it’s even more difficult if you don’t have involvement and assistance from others. Caretakers left to care for a parent on their own are prone to caregiver burnout if they don’t enlist help from siblings or other family members, which is nothing to be ashamed of. That’s why you need to know who, how, and when to ask for help. Here are some practical suggestions to involve family in your parent’s care.
Who to Ask For Help
When thinking of who you can enlist to assist you with your caretaker responsibilities, the first people that probably come to mind are brothers and sisters. Even if they can’t do everything you do, it doesn’t mean they’ll be unwilling to help in small ways, even if it means only offering you occasional respite care.
Spouses and teenage children are other candidates to help. If they’re not helping you now, it doesn’t mean they won’t help you if asked again, even if they’ve been unable or unwilling to help. Persistence can sometimes tip the scales. Maybe they can only be of occasional help; they can still be a valuable member of your caregiving team.
How to Ask For Help
- Be specific. Ambiguity can sometimes lead to a sibling or other family member not being helpful because they are uneasy over what’s entailed. It will help get them involved more often if they know exactly what to expect and what they’ll have to do. For example, you could say: “I’d like to go to the movies with a friend on Sunday afternoon. I was hoping you could help care for Mom while I’m gone. I’d be leaving at 3 o’clock. She normally watches television in the afternoon and takes her evening medication with her dinner around 6:00 pm. I’ll have dinner prepared; you’ll just need to warm it up for her. I’ll be home around 7:00 pm.” This gives your potential helper a good idea of what’s required and that it’s something they can do.
- Be flexible. When you ask for help, understand that not everyone will be comfortable doing everything you do. In the example above, imagine that your mother requires an insulin injection before dinner, and your sibling isn’t comfortable giving it to her. You could re-arrange your outing to go to a later showing of the movie so you could give your mom the injection yourself, yet still get to go to the movies.
- Give clear instructions. People are more willing to help when they know what’s expected of them. Tell them if they’re going to need to dress your parent, that you’ll have the clothes laid out for them, and that you’ll provide a menu of meals and snacks for the day. Sharing small details provides reassurance to your helper, makes things go more smoothly, and makes it more likely they’ll help you again in the future when asked.
When to Ask For Help
It’s vital that you ask for help long before you get to the stage of having burnout. Taking time for yourself will help you be more present and be a better caregiver. That’s easier said than done, which is why getting a sibling or other family member to help can make the difference. Most people want to help. Don’t hesitate to give them a call.
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