Be Sensitive to the Primary Caregiver’s Needs

Geriatric specialists note that no matter how many adult children make up a family, the responsibilities are not equally shared when parent care becomes necessary. Often one adult child emerges as the primary caregiver. If you are not the primary caregiver, maintain a sensitivity to the one who handles most of the responsibility.

Ann Landers, the advice columnist received this letter to her column…
“This is for all the sisters and brothers of caregivers who are `too busy’ with their own lives to lend a hand,” she begins. “A few years ago my life changed when my mother became ill with a progressive disease. I put all my plans on hold and little by little gave up visiting my friends, doing volunteer work, socializing, attending night school, and spending time with my husband. I now must use all my `free time’ to take my parents to their doctors’ appointments and tend to their needs. I am not complaining. My parents are wonderful people, and I consider it a privilege to care for them, but I am upset because my siblings do nothing to help me.”

Many times we are just not aware of the effort our sibling is putting into the care of our parent…we are most times too consumed with our own life and hence we just accept that the caregiver sibling is fine…I mean after-all she is not complaining …she hasn’t said anything. So a little advice to the ‘lesser’ caregivers…If another member of your family is carrying most of the load, do whatever you can to pitch in and help. If you are geographically distant, consider using some of your vacation time to provide care for the aging parent, giving the primary caregiver some time off. Or if you live nearby, call the primary caregiver and offer your services a few hours per week…if you are unable to physically help, consider calling in a service such as Home Instead Senior Care to help out.

Finally, as caregiver to an aging parent, be sure you know and respect your own limits. Otherwise you run the risk of becoming exhausted, sick, depressed, and burned out. In that condition you will not be helpful to aging parents or anyone else. Do make time for yourself and find ways to nurture your body and spirit.

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