How to Get the Whole Family Involved

family involvedAre you a relative or friend of an older ill or disabled person?

Is one family member overburdened with providing or arranging care?

Do you want other family members and friends to become more involved?

These tips can help:

Start with a family meeting .

  • Call a family meeting to discuss care giving needs and ways for each person to help.
  • Include everyone who is able to contribute.
  • Consider holding the meeting in a neutral location with few distractions. Or if your family is spread out geographically, the meeting can be held by email, in a private web chat room or through telephone conferencing.
  • Make up an agenda ahead of time so that everyone can contribute.

How will decisions be made?

  • If the person being cared for is able, he or she should have a say in how care needs are met.
  • The person who has the primary responsibility – whether through providing care or arranging care by professionals – should also have a say.
  • Other family members’ views should be heard and respected too.
  • For health and legal decisions, the person being cared for can use Durable Power of Attorney to designate someone to make decisions if he or she cannot.

If you Disagree .

  • It is common for people to disagree about the best way to approach a care giving situation.
  • Make sure each person’s concerns are heard.
  • Try to reach a compromise.
  • Avoid turning the disagreement into a feud.
  • If you cannot agree, bring in an outside person – a counselor, care manager or clergy member, for example – to act as a mediator.

Support the primary caregiver.

  • Try to respect the person who is taking primary responsibility. He or she is doing a difficult job.
  • If you see that a problem exists, offer solutions and support, not criticism.

Don’t be afraid to take charge.

  • When there are several people involved, organizing tasks is very important.
  • Make a list of what needs to be done. Ask people to volunteer for tasks.
  • Consider having each person take responsibility for a different area of care giving. For example, one person to medical appointments and get prescriptions filled . Another person can pay bills and research financial options.

What can you do if you don’t feel others are carrying their weight?

  • Find out why. Sometimes a friend or family member would like to help but isn’t sure how.
  • Sometimes a sibling may be respecting the role of the primary care giver by not interfering. He or she may not get involved unless asked directly.
  • If a person is not participating because he or she does not agree with the course of care, talking through the issues may help.

Long distance support: How to help the primary care giver when you can’t be there.

What can you do if you live in another city or state?

  • Ask how you can help. Offer ideas if the primary caregiver isn’t sure.
  • Offer emotional support. Call and check in regularly. Be someone the care giver can confide in.
  • Make phone visits. Spend time on the phone visiting with the person being cared for.
  • Give breaks. Take over care giving duties for a day or weekend each month or a week every few months. This provides breaks for the primary caregiver.
  • Do those tasks that can be done at a distance. Research the disease or condition or make phone calls to find out about support services.
  • Thank the primary caregiver. Show your appreciation regularly.

Involving the whole family in caring for an d supporting an elder family member can ease the burden on everyone. Look inside for ideas on how you can include others in care giving.

To find information about support groups and other services in your area , consult your local phone book. Or call the Eldercare Locator at 1 – 800 – 677 – 11 16, or visit their website at Eldercare

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