For many family caregivers, there
comes a point in time where they
become overwhelmed with caregiving
tasks. Unsure how to ask for help,
many family care providers miss
opportunities to seek better
communication, connection and
support from family and friends.
The following are some suggested
ways to open the lines of communication between caregivers,
friends and family who can help out with the responsibilities of
caring for a loved one.
An opportunity for communication – Although it is understandable
to have reservations about discussing a loved one’s impairments,
honest communication about the realities of the caregiving
situation offers others the opportunity to respond with assistance.
A family meeting is often a perfect way to address a loved one’s
circumstances and care needs. During this meeting, it is important
to include the loved one as well as everyone who is affected by the
loved one’s situation. Continue to include those members who
feel uncomfortable or do not want to take part in the discussion
without forcing the issue. Family members don’t often realize the
amount of time and energy it takes to be a caregiver. Ask for help
and communicate with them so they realize the amount of
support and assistance you need.
Be clear about your energy level – Let other family members
know that your caregiving duties are keeping you very busy and
that you only have so much energy for other activities.
Treat yourself well – One of the best things to do as a caregiver is to
take care of yourself. When others depend on you, it is important that
you continue treating yourself well. Exercise can often help decrease
stress and depression, lower blood pressure and provide you with more
energy. You can’t fully assist anyone else if you are personally struggling.
Focus on your needs as well as the needs of the loved one you care for.
Accept the need to adapt – You may find it easier to allow other
family members to host
more time-intensive family
gatherings. You may also
have to choose which
events to attend based on
which would be the
simplest, least exhausting
and most enjoyable for the
person for whom you
provide care – and for you.
A little help goes
a long way – Accept the
gift of respite. When
someone offers to stay with the care recipient
for a few hours, accept the invitation to take a break. This time
may encourage them to visit again or be more supportive of
All too often, families find themselves dealing with elder/parent
care issues and facing new life challenges. The challenges of this
new responsibility cannot be simply identified nor are they easy to
fulfill. Becoming a parent to a parent is not an easy role to fill and
emotions, because they can’t be “seen” or “felt” by anyone else, arethe most difficult elements in elder care situations. Because they
are so elusive, yet have such a tremendous impact, they must be
fully understood and dealt with appropriately in order to achieve
ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO THE FAMILY CAREGIVER
Many times a family caregiver may feel more comfortable with a
trained caregiver in their home when they are unable to be there.
There are several resources available to family caregivers starting
with the information provided on the NFCA website –