All posts tagged: family

To Underrated & Overwhelmed Family Caregivers: Thank You.

I did not provide 24/7 care for my mother during her final years with Alzheimer’s.  But I know of many families who do. Being responsible for the care of someone else is daunting, especially for family caregivers.  Ask any parent who has endured sleepless nights with their child.
I vividly remember sleeping on the floor of my ten year-old daughter’s room one night.  She woke me up complaining of leg pain and some tingling.  At 2am all I could think of as a possible explanation was spinal meningitis!  I grabbed my pillow, reassured her it was probably just “growing pains,” and if she felt anything else to wake me up, not that I could sleep anyway.  She was fine in the morning, and I was as relieved as I was exhausted.
The distinct difference between caring for your child and your parent is the expectation that your child will be fine and grow into adulthood.  Your medically-compromised parent or other adult in your care may not “be fine” ever again. What starts out as a full time care commitment of a newborn gradually evolves, as the child learns to feed themselves, dress without help, walk to the bus stop, etc. Naturally parental care diminishes as a child’s skills “improve with age.” Not so when a family takes on the care of an aging parent or other adult.  Depending on the medical circumstances, they are not likely to “improve with age.” What starts out as a part time care commitment of an elderly adult, gradually evolves for family caregivers, as the older adults require increasingly more help with self care, transportation to appointments, cooking, laundry, and other daily activities.  

Family Caregivers Are There “From Cradle to Grave”

My mother had a multitude of phrases, some of which didn’t make any sense.  But I always understood the message with her often-repeated phrase, “from cradle to grave.”  Although I was young, I remember my grandfather living with us for a short time.  He had dementia and other disabilities from multiple strokes.  My father and uncle were making arrangements to move their dad into a more reputable facility after my mother witnessed his nursing home caregiver slap him! During the interim, Grandpa moved in with us. I was too young to grasp the specifics, but I certainly remember the tense atmosphere at our house while he lived with us, while we were his family caregivers.  I distinctly recall snippets of dialogue between my mom or dad and my grandfather.  They were always calm, repeating questions or directions until Grandpa complied or answered. But I also remember overhearing my parents talking with each other about my grandfather’s situation.  Apparently, dad was very busy launching something big at work and felt he had “abandoned” Mom with the responsibility of caring for his dad. I couldn’t hear my mom’s reply, but knowing her as I did, she would have been reassuring and accepting of the responsibility on behalf her husband’s father. I definitely understood and felt the impact of her expression “from cradle to grave.”  My grandfather passed away from another stroke after a few months.

Giving Back to Family Caregivers

Decades later, my dad suffered a moderate stroke, launching my mother into her nine-year role as his selfless caregiver.  Although he described her as his “task master,” her encouragement peppered with her strong will kept him mobile “until the very end.” During those years, my mother was increasingly adamant that should she ever need long term, care she did not want to live with me.  Mom had witnessed and experienced first hand the toll on family caregivers, and she refused to put me in those shoes.  “Just find me someplace nice, and come visit me,” she often said. And when the time came, I did exactly as she had instructed “until the very end.” 

My Kudos to Family Caregivers

I genuinely applaud families who take on the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one.  Kudos to all family caregivers, who are underappreciated and overextended.  It’s often a thankless undertaking. Let me make it clear that it really doesn’t go unnoticed, and I thank you!  

Check out the CareAcademy online class that teaches the best communication practices for family caregivers.

Elaine PereiraTo Underrated & Overwhelmed Family Caregivers: Thank You.
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6 Tips to Avoid Family Conflicts

One of the most trying aspects of life comes when a family member is aging. Whether the argument is over driving privileges, housing options, or financial issues, getting older can definitely take its toll on even the closest of families. In order to avoid these kinds of family conflicts and trying arguments, verse your family in these tips to make getting older a less frustrating process. Be Open Arguments build over time when the people affected do not speak up soon enough. Avoiding family conflicts becomes easier when everyone understands how someone is feeling. If your mother or father do not want to give up their right to drive a car, it is important that he or she says so. If your children think it is important for you to stop driving for your safety, it is also important that they say so. Heated arguments can be avoided, if you just take a little time to listen and communicate how you are feeling. Be Sensitive Now that you have learned to communicate your feelings, it is also important to be sensitive. Aging is a hard process for everyone, and there is no right way to settle your affairs. Be sure to be patient and kind when discussing matters such as housing, diet, exercise or driving. This way, elderly family members are more likely to come to compromises with their children or other relatives. Be Gracious Finally, remember that things change. While one situation may have worked out for you and your family in the past, it may be time to move on to new and better things. By understanding that aging happens to the best of us, you are that much closer to still living your life.

Tips To Help Your Family

Here are 6 tips to help avoid family conflicts:
  1. State the problem and determine who needs to work together to develop the solution. When family members clearly identify a problem, they can begin to work on it. However, when people don’t acknowledge the problem, or avoid discussing it altogether, a successful resolution becomes impossible.
  2. Establish ground rules for resolving the problem. Before discussing ways to resolve the problem, set some rules for the discussion. For example, agree that no one will call anyone names, or ban yelling. Encourage small breaks from the discussion if tempers flare, and emphasize the importance of resolving conflict peacefully.
  3. Brainstorm solutions to the problem. Allow everyone involved to offer input into potential solutions. During the brainstorming process, don’t judge whether each solution is good or bad, but instead, create a list of potential solutions.
  4. Evaluate the risks and benefits of each potential solution. Listen to each family member’s input about the pros and cons of the solutions.
  5. Reach a solution as a team. Try to reach a consensus about which solution will best resolve the conflict. Be willing to negotiate, and encourage family members to be open to new solutions.
  6. Identify what each family member will do to work on the solution. Each person should identify action steps he or she will take to work toward the solution.
There are many ways you can prepare your family for the transitions that come with aging together. Want to learn more about professional caregiving, conflict resolutions, and solving family conflicts? Check out CareAcademy’s Eldercare Classes for more.
Elayne Forgie6 Tips to Avoid Family Conflicts
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